Title: In Time | Sparks Rise | Beyond the Night
Author: Alexandra Bracken
Series: The Darkest Minds
Publisher: Harper Collins
Release Date: July 16th 2013 | September 2nd 2014 | January 1st 2018
Gabe’s life has been devastated in the wake of the economic crash. The only option left for someone like him to escape his tragic past is to leave his small town behind and to attempt to become a skiptracer. This already almost-impossible task is made all the more difficult by his first “score,” a young girl who won’t speak, but who changes his life in ways he could never imagine.
Sam didn’t think things could get worse at Thurmand rehabilitation camp. Then the Reds arrive. Everyone assumed the kids with firepower had been killed years ago. Instead they were taken away, brainwashed, and returned as terrifyingly effective guards. To her horror, Sam recognizes one of them: Lucas, the one spark of light in Sam’s dark childhood. Lucas has a deadly secret—he beat the brutal training that turned his fellow Reds into mindless drones. When Sam defends herself against an attack by a vile PSF guard and faces a harrowing punishment, Lucas must risk everything to save her.
Beyond the Night
The government-run “rehabilitation camps” have been shut down, but kids with Psi powers are anything but free. Sam would rather be on her own than put in the care of a foster family and given the “cure”—a dangerous procedure that unclaimed kids across the country are being forced to undergo. But there’s more at stake than just her own safety. Sam once made someone a promise, and the time has come to fulfil it. Now that she’s out of her camp, Mia only has one thought in her head: finding Lucas, her beloved older brother.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
With no other way to survive in the wake of the economic crash IAAN brought to the United States Gabe’s only option is to become a skiptracer, tracking down the children on the run and returning them to the camps. Gabe isn’t one of the skiptracers who hunt children for the thrill of it, he’s just someone down on his luck who’s trying to survive. I loved getting to know his character and I thought it was really interesting seeing how IAAN affected people who weren’t children, just ordinary people who’ve still had their lives irreversibly changed.
In order to access better resources Gabe needs to hand in a child, and he hits the jackpot when he finds Zu. There was an interesting bond that developed between Zu and Gabe. In Time is only told from Gabe’s POV, so we don’t get any insight into what Zu is thinking, but the longer the two spend together the harder it is for Gabe to keep thinking of Zu as a ‘thing’ and the longer he puts off turning her in for the reward money.
Life at Thurmond hasn’t changed for Sam, not since one of her bunkmates was taken away in the night, but then the Reds are brought back and among the blank brainwashed faces Sam spots someone she used to know. One of the main things I enjoyed about Sparks Rise was seeing through Sam’s eyes, rather than just learning about her from Ruby’s perspective. She still stands up to the guards but this time we see how scared she is as well as simply witnessing the outspoken confidence Ruby saw.
Sparks Rise is told from two POVs, Sam’s and Lucas’s. Unlike the other Reds Lucas managed to come out the other side with his memories intact, and he walked into Thurmond willingly looking for his sister only to find his childhood best friend. Lucas is a brilliant character, one of my favourites from this series, his open and caring personality at odd with his Red abilities. Based on the fact that this novella was set in Thurmond I knew it wouldn’t have a happy ending, but the way it ended hurt worse than I was prepared for.
After being freed from the camp Mia is one of the unclaimed, no one has come for her so she’s remained a ward of the government. She believes her brother is out there waiting for her, but when Sam reunites the two siblings even Mia can’t get through to Lucas. I loved getting to know Mia after hearing about her from Lucas and Sam in Sparks Rise. She’s a kick ass character who’s still strong, brave and confident despite everything she faced in the camp.
Unlike Mia what Sam went through in Thurmond has broken part of her. She managed to save Lucas from being taken with the other Reds when the camps were liberated but she doesn’t know how to help him. There’s a lot of doubt and guilt Sam is dealing with, and it’s such a change from the character we were first introduced to in The Darkest Minds.
Beyond the Night acts almost as an epilogue for the main trilogy, told from Mia’s, Lucas’s sister, and Sam’s POVs. This story had a more hopeful ending than In Time or Sparks Rise, but it’s an open ending because it’s obvious there’s still so much work that needs to be done in this world Alexandra Bracken has built.
Beyond the Night:
These three novellas fill in a lot of the gaps the original trilogy left behind; what happened to Zu in between when she left East River in The Darkest Minds and when Ruby found her again in In the Afterlight? What happened to the Reds when they were taken from the camps and what happened in Thurmond after Ruby escaped? These are dark stories, and while they’re not necessary to understand the main trilogy I’d highly recommend them because they offer so much in terms of character development and world building.
What did you think of The Darkest Minds novellas? Were they favourites of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.