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the darkest minds never fade in the afterlight alexandra bracken

REVIEW + DISCUSSION: in the afterlight; alexandra brackenIn the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 28th 2014
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopian, Fantasy & Magic, General, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 544
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
Amazon // The Book Depository

Ruby can’t look back. Fractured by an unbearable loss, she and the kids who survived the government’s attack on Los Angeles travel north to regroup. Only Ruby can keep their highly dangerous prisoner in check. But with Clancy Gray, there's no guarantee you're fully in control, and everything comes with a price. When the Children's League disbands, Ruby rises up as a leader and forms an unlikely allegiance with Liam's brother, Cole, who has a volatile secret of his own. There are still thousands of other Psi kids suffering in government "rehabilitation camps" all over the country. Freeing them--revealing the governments unspeakable abuses in the process--is the mission Ruby has claimed since her own escape from Thurmond, the worst camp in the country. But not everyone is supportive of the plan Ruby and Cole craft to free the camps. As tensions rise, competing ideals threaten the mission to uncover the cause of IANN, the disease that killed most of America's children and left Ruby and others with powers the government will kill to keep contained. With the fate of a generation in their hands, there is no room for error. One wrong move could be the spark that sets the world on fire.

in the afterlight

this is, without a doubt, my favorite trilogy to ever exist. this is the highest rating i’ve ever given, and i don’t think there’ll be a book to surpass it. (i’ll explain later why i took 0.15 points off. may or may not be a spoiler for some people.) i felt like this series was one giant book split into three giant chapters. it’s hard to say how i felt about this one specific novel in the trilogy because they all contributed in some sort of way. like, i wouldn’t be as satisfied with the beginning if it weren’t for the ending, and so on and so forth.

if you haven’t read anything by alexandra bracken… what are you doing with your life? this is the first book/series she’s ever written and it’s so so so good. the darkest minds centers around a captivating dystopian world: a dangerous plague has swept the united states, affecting children around the ages eight to eighteen. the citizens live in fear, but not for those who die; no, they fear those who survived. the children who survived the plague, referred to as the psi, have special powers. some have the ability to control electricity; some are telekinetic; some have the power to create flames out of nothing; some have the ability to remember everything; some have the power to control your mind. the government has decided to “help” these children by forcing them into rehabilitation camps. this is where our story begins and that’s basically the premise of the first book. i do not recommend reading the summary of in the afterlight for obvious reasons: 1) spoilers and 2) spOILERS. (but if you really want to, here it is.)

alex has an extremely remarkable way of creating in-depth characters. honestly, my favorite part of these books are the characters. our main protagonist, ruby, is not a “strong female hero,” but something much more. the amount of character development is crazy good. it’s not only our main character – it’s all the characters. (yes, i mean all of them.) the plot is also extremely interesting and fits together perfectly. alex makes me attached and feel for everything, even a car. her metaphors and descriptions are on point. please please please leave and read this series. like now. i mean, now… right nOW. *whispers* gooooooo.

“what they don’t tell you about forgiveness is this – you don’t give it for the other person’s sake, but your own.”

– cole, page 177

if you’ve read the darkest minds and never fade i’m going to assume you haven’t started this book because 1) you don’t have it yet or 2) you’re afraid. it’s alright, you can admit it. in all honesty, i would be too. do not fear! pick up the book and start it. now. i can (almost) guarantee you won’t be disappointed with how this turned out. p.s. i would recommend reading in time and sparks rise before you begin. not required, but definitely recommended. there will be references to both novellas and things will make more sense (you will also feel more feels). i would love to stay and ramble some more, but spoilers (the reason for all of life’s problems). please finish the book and come back! the discussion will be beginning soon..

Rating Report
Overall: 5

*WARNING: in-depth review and discussion will be beginning! please DO NOT continue reading unless you’ve finished all the books in this series! i really don’t want to spoil you because these books are definitely worth reading. please come back when you’re done with all the books.*

before i began this book, i was hoping to see:

  • zu reunited with the others!
  • liam finding out about cole’s powers/cole telling liam about his powers
  • more ruby+liam scenes
  • ruby fixing things with sam or sam making an appearance
  • a (reasonably) happy ending! (aka none of the main characters die)

i’m extremely happy (and surprised) that everything on my so-called “wish list” happened. there are a few many things i want to point out, so i’ve decided to split it up into some categories.

characters + relationships:

i think it’s necessary to start this with zu since i’ve been dying to see her since the moment she left. she’s grown so much since she left them at east river. she’s no longer the little girl we remember. zu is now braver, fiercer, and not afraid. her journey without the gang hasn’t broken her; it’s made her stronger. one of the most exciting part of this book was when zu finally speaks. i nearly exploded with joy. her little voice lights up with joy when she realizes she can do it. :’-) honestly, the interview was one of my favorite parts. i love how zu has the most to say (and usually the best lines) even though she couldn’t speak. i’m incredibly proud of her.

happy squeal (emma stone)

vida & zu’s relationship is so heartwarming. when they first interact, vida is extremely cruel towards her. it wasn’t until after ruby and vida talk it through that their relationship really blossoms. vida becomes her “older sister” and supports her in every possible way. one of my favorite parts was when they all decide to dye her hair and have a girlish moment. <3

did you expect vida & chubs to be a thing? because, honestly, i was waiting for it. from the moment in they interacted in never fade, i’ve been waiting for them to fall for each other. (or to at least admit it) they’re opposite ends of the spectrum, and yet they fit perfectly. the way ruby and liam discovered their “official-ness” was hilarious. chubs was like, “i was just – building some shelves, for the– uh, the supplies and books in the medical, uh, room,” GOLDEN!

sam & ruby were finally reunited! i love how even after all this, they still understand each other. *happy tears* even though sam doesn’t have the memories, she knows. i was crying happy tears when sam finally remembered. it was one of the most beautiful paragraphs in the book:

“if each memory that drifted up were a star, i was standing at the center of the galaxy. beneath vast constellations of lost smiles and quiet laughter. whole, endless days of gray and brown and black that we’d spent with only each other to hold on to.

… i reached up, meeting her halfway, locking my fingers around hers. a secret. a promise.” (pg. 479)

ruby & cole had a very strong relationship throughout this novel. it started at the end of never fade when she found out his secret. this secret caused me so much frustration. i just wanted cole to tell liam and tell everyone. i understand where he’s coming from – ruby had to go through the same thing in the first book – but i just.. UGH. it took way too long. it was really unnecessarily long. like cole, get it over with. i didn’t trust cole at first, but then i realized he had no one. ruby has liam, vida, chubs, and zu; but cole? he only has ruby. also, i really didn’t like how they kept putting liam down and the three of them together was just bad.

nico & ruby where very rocky at first, and, as usual, clancy is to blame. it wasn’t until they talked about jude (always jude), that they fixed things up. afterwards, they were an awesome team. both of them knew clancy’s ways and knew the horrors of thurmond. it was something no one would understand.

the moments between nico & clancy were the only times we saw clancy as a human. they retell a lot of history and you see how clancy was before. thurmond had changed both boys immensely. it’s nice to know clancy’s personality is a bit posttraumatic, not because he’s actually an extreme sadist. (maybe a little) i’m also pretty sure nico was gay and had a crush on clancy, but it might be just me.

clancy’s mom, lillian gray, is a nut case. i expected a lot out of her, but i know that’s my mistake. there was no way she could’ve been the answer to all of our problems and dreams. the cure-that-wasn’t-even-a-cure was so disappointing. i was actually on clancy’s side. once we found out the truth, i just wanted to get rid of her. lillian gray was probably the most aggravating character ever.

so, i lied. alice was the most aggravating character ever. from the moment she showed up, i was like

who the hell are you


then we find out liam got her and didn’t tell ruby gdi. i know she made a huge impact on the ending and the camps and everything, but i don’t care. she’s annoying and i didn’t like her. honestly, i saw her as a piece of roadblock between ruby and liam.

finally, the relationship i have the most to say about: ruby & liam.. aka my eternal OTP. i was very frustrated at ruby for continuously keeping secrets and not trusting liam. i mean honestly, I THOUGHT WE GOT OVER IT. then, i was frustrated at liam for doing the same thing. *echm alice, this is why i hate you* when ruby finds the note and doesn’t tell liam and keeps everything bottled up i’m just



then, ruby decides to, i dunno, sacrifice herself, and have that stupid argument that implied they were over (but clearly not)????? i simultaneously wanted to die, cry, and sigh. i didn’t understand her logic – at all. WHY WHY WHY. they were only “broken up” for a few chapters, but i swear, the most painful chapters ever. after cole finally tells liam, they have their beautiful chapter of awesomeness and fluff and glory. when ruby examines his hand during his rage i wanted to explode from feelings. they’re so so so adorable and <3 they’re just so beautiful and i love them.

i still don’t know how i feel about clancy. throughout the first two books, he’s clearly the antagonist. no one likes clancy, and he’s caused way too much trouble. but towards the end of this, after you find the so-called cure, you realize there’s no real antagonist. he’s just a kid who went through some really bad stuff, which caused him to make some really bad decisions. of course, i’ll never forgive him for what he did to cole and jude and well.. everyone, but i don’t exactly blame him 100% of the way. (still kinda hate you, clancy, and you deserve what you got)

finally, ruby. the amount of character development for her throughout the series is simultaneously realistic and surreal. she’s grown so much and i’m truly proud of her. the ruby we started with was a completely different person. there isn’t another person i would’ve wanted to read this series from. she’s my favorite fictional hero… like ever. what i love most about ruby is that she’s flawed. she isn’t a ‘mary sue’ at all. she’s fairly reckless and really frustrating, but she’s so smart and fiercely loyal. it annoys me how she doesn’t open up to others, but i guess that makes her a bit more human. she’s extremely strong, not physically, but in a way that she won’t give up. ruby elizabeth daly is one of the most beautiful characters i’ve ever read. i’ll truly miss her and she will never fade from our minds. 😉


i don’t know how to say this without sounding like i didn’t like cole, but.. i’m.. kinda.. glad he died? of course i’m sad he’s gone, but i’m more relieved it’s not liam. when the two of them went off on their own, i knew something was going to happen. with cole, i was broken; with liam, i would’ve been ruined. i wouldn’t ever be able to recover. i’m all for everyone living happily ever after, but in a story like this, it’s pretty unbelievable. someone is going to die, and has to die, for it to feel satisfying.

all the references to jude were like picking at a scab that never fully healed. i’m glad he wasn’t just forgotten or replaced (and vida talks about that in this book). nico and ruby talk about what jude saw of the future (roads) and it made me so happy to see it in the final sentence.

the novellas:

both novellas make an appearance!! zu was talking about gabe and it was really nice to see how much it affected her. in the novella, you see things from gabe’s perspective, so you don’t see how big of an impacts it’s made on zu. also, when we found out about them using reds as soldiers i wasn’t as surprised because of sparks rise. it was really sad to see how much sam has given up and changed since that encounter with lucas and tilton.


did you expect clancy (the lil’ dick) to be controlling ruby? because i didn’t. i noted her fatigue and memory loss and thought it was some sort of side effect from her powers. maybe she’d somehow managed to suppress her own memories due to stress? the real reason made much more sense and action action action! loved it.

that ending:

let’s just say it was GOLDEN. i was really frightened this book would resemble allegiant (there were references made on pg. 233), but it was completely different and so satisfying. everything i’d asked for has been fulfilled.

squealing minons


the ending was extremely short and happened very quickly (approx 80 pages?), but it didn’t feel rushed at all. (the ending meaning: the moment she found out clancy was using her again.) it was action-packed, epic, and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. i felt like it was purposely short because half the time, ruby is unconscious or thinking of a plan (and if she were to actually tell us her plan, it would be so anti-climactic).

i loved how it all came in a full circle. it started with thurmond; it ended with thurmond (pg. 503). there weren’t any gaps and everything was resolved: liam/ruby, ruby/her parents, america/the disease, clancy, ruby/sam, america/the rest of the world.. everything! it all fit together like a perfect puzzle. it was terrifically resolved and wrapped-up – with a bow, sparkly wrapping paper, flowers, balloons, cakes, and HAPPINESS.

the last chapters/pages were perfect and my favorite. also, there were references to jude and his view of the future (pg. 278 & 535)! she’s no longer living in the past and grieving for her mistakes, filled with regret. she’s living in the now and bringing jude (or the memory of him) with her. i like how it wasn’t too happy since there were still deaths, but overall, it was a really satisfying and joyous ending. although there were many moments i was frustrated, the ending made up for it all.

we will never forget how they epically carpe the hell out of this diem. the darkest minds will never fade from our hearts.. even in the afterlight. (sorry, i had to) now the only thing left to do is reread it again and again and again.

in a nutshell..

slow claps

feels (spirited away)

squeals (anna kendrick)


did you enjoy this book/series as much as i did? share your thoughts below!



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Alexandra Ling

alexandra is a twenty-year-old content creator and avid reader. when she's not on the internet or hiding behind pages, you can find her training to be a professional ballet dancer or practicing yoga. she currently resides in los angeles, california.