Thank you to Disney Hyperion and Alexandra Bracken for this advance copy, I am extremely grateful! All opinions are my own!
I started reading The Darkest Minds in November of 2014 and it quickly became one of my all time favorite series I have ever read, and still is to this day. I was so happy with everything about it, the ending was so incredibly satisfying and I was content on closing the door to this amazing world. Fast forward to Alexandra Bracken announcing a new addition in this series nearly four years later that would have Zu as the main character and I was admittedly a bit nervous. Like I said, I was so happy with how In the Afterlight ended and was worried about opening a new can of worms. My fears were for nothing as this book was truly, truly excellent. This is the sixth book of Alexandra Bracken’s that I have read and I have often said to friends and colleagues that she is definitely in the correct profession, but I honestly do not believe her writing has ever been more sharp and beautiful than in The Darkest Legacy. This book is definitely worth the wait and worth every single second you spend reading it.
*Possible minor spoilers ahead!*
One of my favorite things about this book was the realistic nature of the setting. Usually when authors announce a new story set in a world that wrapped up with a satisfying ending, there is always that fear that every prejudice will be erased and every opinion will be the same, etc. This was not the case in this book, Alexandra Bracken did a fantastic job in making sure that this world still felt real. There were still people who were wary of the Psi youth, still were not in favor of them not being in camps or controlled and still extremely prejudiced. The relationships between the original Betty gang also felt very real. These characters are now five years older than they were the last time we saw them and they are not always the picture perfect friend group, they fight and disagree, but they do still love each other. The “realness” of this book was a breath of fresh air and very much appreciated.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the new characters. Roman is such a sweetheart with a heart of gold and Priyanka lightens up every scene she is in. In tune with Alexandra Bracken’s amazing storytelling in this book, we are able to dive deeper into the world of Psi youth through Roman and Priyanka without the plot feeling repetitive to the original trilogy. Different facets of reality for these kids were explored as we learn about Roman and Priyanka, and later others. We shift away from the camps and look at other experiences for this still oppressed group. The trio of Zu, Roman and Priyanka had many similarities to the Betty gang, but they were also very much their own group.
I was a bit worried and also quite intrigued when I heard that we were going to be re-entering the world in Zu’s perspective. Zu is a great character and she is an integral part of the original trilogy, but she did not truly speak until the end of the series. During the original trilogy, whatever she was thinking or feeling, was recounted through Ruby. It was definitely interesting to read Zu talking so much if I’m being completely honest, I’m used to having to try ad decipher her facial expressions to get a feel for what she is thinking but in this book, she is quite vocal. Since I have received this advance copy and started reading it, I have been asked how Zu is as a main character and I say every single time that she is simply an icon. She stands up to anybody who thinks about hurting anyone she cares about, she fights for her own beliefs and her friends and questions things she thinks are unjust, and she is incredibly vulnerable. I loved that we got to see Zu’s insecurities about her ability to help people in this book, she has moments where she feels that she is not enough or she simply cannot go on and she pushes herself forward anyway. Zu is the perfect main character for this book.
The Darkest Legacy could have gone a lot of ways, it could have been another story about Psi camps and revolting out of them, it could have featured a friend group that was a carbon copy of the Betty gang and it could have been The Darkest Minds 2.0. Fortunately for us, Alexandra Bracken’s beautiful writing and superb storytelling made sure that was not the case. The new characters were amazing, the cameos from the old were stellar and real, the relationships both platonic and romantic were so well developed and the plot kept you hooked until the last page. This is for sure going to be in my top books of the year for 2018 and I cannot wait for everyone to read it and re-enter this amazing world.
Also, I’m going to need a release date for the next book because I am still destroyed over that ending and we cannot leave someone in the position they were in. We just can’t.