In the follow-up to Bracken’s The Darkest Minds (2012), readers jonesing for an adrenaline fix will delight in 16-year-old Ruby’s return as a reluctant resistance fighter.
Having erased every trace of herself from Liam’s mind and abandoned her friends in order to protect them, Ruby throws herself into mission after dangerous mission for the Children’s League. Though purportedly fighting to save a generation of children stolen from their families and locked away in camps for possessing powers they barely understand, it quickly becomes clear to Ruby that the good guys may not be so good after all. A Hail Mary mission to recover a flash drive containing secrets about the origin of the disease that killed most American children and left survivors a persecuted and feared band of misfits forces Ruby on a perilous cross-country journey. It’s a ride worth taking with her, particularly as Ruby collects a small posse of sidekicks who again become the beating heart at the center of this dark, dystopian series. Ruby is a wonderfully flawed heroine: fiercely loyal to the ones she loves and refreshingly conflicted about the enormous power she possesses.
The intricate plot and diverse cast of recurring and new characters make this book difficult to fully appreciate as a stand-alone. But after reading the first two books, readers will be left clamoring for the third. (Dystopian thriller. 14 & up)