ARC Review: Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #2) by Alexandra Bracken

Pub. Date: October 15th, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
507 pages

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis, leading dangerous missions to bring down a corrupt government and breaking into the minds of her enemies. Other kids in the Children’s League call Ruby “Leader”, but she knows what she really is: a monster.

When Ruby is entrusted with an explosive secret, she must embark on her most dangerous mission yet: leaving the Children’s League behind. Crucial information about the disease that killed most of America’s children—and turned Ruby and the others who lived into feared and hated outcasts—has survived every attempt to destroy it. But the truth is only saved in one place: a flashdrive in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future—and who now wouldn’t recognize her.

As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam—and answers about the catastrophe that has ripped both her life and America apart—she is torn between old friends and the promise she made to serve the League. Ruby will do anything to protect the people she loves. But what if winning the war means losing herself?

Within the first few chapters of Never Fade I began to realize how many significant details from The Darkest Minds I completely forgot. When I say significant, I’m talking major plot points, primary characters, and the ending of the novel. I literally forgot about 90% of the book. What I think affected my memory the most was how Never Fade in no way picks up where The Darkest Minds left off. All of those little memory light bulbs that go off as characters, setting, and plot details become important again, weren’t lit as early into Never Fade as I would have liked, because the story begins in a completely new location, with an almost entirely new set of characters. I really liked Bracken’s style of jumping right into the action, and I would typically applaud the lack of blatant recapping. But, for one of the first times EVER, I actually really needed a recap to orient myself within the story.

Maybe my lack of memory for book one affected how I read book two, but I had a really hard time emotionally connecting to any of the new characters or events. We are thrown right into the action of the story, which is fun and exciting, but the action never ceases. Given the number of new characters introduced, with so much action and description of action, I didn’t feel I got the chance to know or care about any of the new characters, especially once some of the old characters were re-introduced. I was somewhat overwhelmed, or exhausted, by the number of plot twists, location changes, and mounting enemy names. So much goes on, and there’s definitely the space for all of it to happen within the 500 pages, but I felt there wasn’t enough down time to catch your breathe amongst the high-speed plot twist. Well-placed action is interesting. Many potential for death action sequences in a row are exhausting and ultimately kind of boring. For me to care about the story and the characters, I needed a better balance between the overwhelming amount of action, and the underwhelming amount of time spent on character development. When (spoiler?) characters are killed off that you never emotionally connected with, the affect on you as a reader is very small, where you definitely get the feeling you were supposed to care more.

Overall, I don’t think my head is in the series any longer. If I forgot so much of book one, I worry how much of book two I will have forgotten by the time book three comes out - especially considering I tend to remember characters over events, and I in no way connected with the new characters. I think the high paced action style suits some readers, but I need more character focus to stay engaged.

Rating 2.5/5

** I received a copy of the novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated. 

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