Written by: Alexandra Bracken
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Release date: October 15th 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon, Book Depository
Add on: 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?
Warning: Minor spoilers for Book 1 of this series. Check out my review of The Darkest Minds here.
Most of Never Fade was “just okay” for me. Unfortunately there was a lot of “expectations ≠ reality”. Which is weird, considering a lot of my problems with this book sort of reflect the issues I had with The Darkest Minds, or at least make sense considering things I noticed about book 1. So, while my expectations were high, I guess I’m not too surprised by my reaction to Never Fade.
For me, The Darkest Minds was really good, but it owed a lot of its strength to its “minor” characters. Chubs and Liam and Zu were around for most of that book, and they served to draw Ruby out of her shell, and ultimately make her a more believable – or likeable, at least for me – character. The three of them were fantastic, and I find each of them on their own a much more interesting character than Ruby.
Now that Ruby’s without them for most of Never Fade, things just didn’t work for me.
However, I don’t want to start out with a major downer, so let me talk for a second about what I did like. Namely, the plot and pacing. It took about 30% of the book before things started to really pick up, but once they did, it was one heck of a ride — totally action-packed. I have absolutely no problems with the plot — in fact I really loved it. It’s interesting and exciting and original, and has plenty of twists and turns. There was never a dull moment, and I certainly didn’t have a problem maintaining my interest through the book.
However, now we have to talk about what I didn’t like about Never Fade… Ruby. I really, really do not like Ruby. She doesn’t make sense to me at all. Her decisions are rash, and she goes from being a super tough, badass, take-no-crap character, to an emotional wreck, almost at the turn of a page.
In Never Fade, Ruby is pretty much alone for a huge portion of the book. Not “alone” in the sense that she’s not with other people, but she’s isolated in the situation she’s put herself in by joining the Children’s League. She has a few “friends”, but God knows why they stick by her. The way she acts doesn’t really seem conducive to friend-making, but whatever. Without the original group of Liam, Chubs, and Zu around, I felt like Ruby’s character — and by extension, her narration — became stark and emotionally boring.
There seemed to be a huge disconnect between the strong girl she became by the end of The Darkest Minds (as long as she was with her friends, anyway), and wherever she ended up by the time we jump back into Never Fade. Yes, she’s strong in Never Fade, but it seemed to me to be a strength that came from betraying her beliefs and putting herself in a really bad position, and having to stick it out.
You might think I’m being too harsh, and maybe I am. She did something at the end of The Darkest Minds that kind of sucked (understatement – but I don’t want to get into why I have a big problem with her actions there). She’s living with the consequences of her decision, which forces her to become a much harder character. But the gap just seems too huge between The Darkest Minds-Ruby and Never Fade-Ruby.
And once she gets her friends back in Never Fade, she jumps right back into being the character from The Darkest Minds, like, immediately. (I literally made a note to myself when I got to that part in the book (“Oh, THERE’S the Ruby I remember from TDM…”). That’s not how realistic character-development works — unless her entire demeanor up until then had been an act which she suddenly dropped. Which is not how it read at all.
So… all that to say, I’m not a Ruby fan.
Now, regarding that awful cliffhanger at the end of The Darkest Minds… It took a while for that to be resolved (longer than I was hoping, really), but I held out hope that it would be resolved in a manner that made me feel better about Ruby’s action in the first place. I had no idea what that manner would be, but I was definitely hoping there would be a bit more to the resolution than what ended up happening. It just seemed a little too convenient, to me. I was expecting to feel a lot more about Ruby and Liam’s predicament when things finally started to get resolved, and while it was sweet, it wasn’t really as emotionally fulfilling as I wanted it to be.
It’s weird, because I feel like maybe, if the books were told in 3rd person, with alternating POVs between Ruby and Liam or something, I would be completely obsessed with this series. The plot works, the cast of characters is great, but obviously the main problem I have with this series is its narrator and main character. I’m not sure whether I’ll pick up book 3 when it comes out… I mean, I probably will, just because I would like to know what happens to the rest of the characters. But unfortunately, I’m not going to be counting down the days until its release, either.
I wanted so much to love this series!! Super disappointing when I just can’t muster the enthusiasm. Meh.