Friday, 29 November 2013

Never Fade: Alexandra Bracken

The world is no longer black and white;
Greens have higher intelligence
Yellows control electricity
Blues have telekinesis
Reds control fire and…
Oranges can mind control.
The world is a colourful and dangerous place….

Ruby never asked to be special, she never asked to be Orange , to have the power to control, but she is and
she can so now she must deal with it if she has any hope of saving the ones she loves. In order to do so Ruby has sacrificed herself to the dangers of the Children’s League, a sinister organisation intent on using Ruby and those like her, to further their own cause. In Never Fade Ruby is entrusted with a dangerous and life altering secret; Liam, the boy she loved but who now would not even recognise her, has unexpectedly come into possession of information that could turn the tide of the Children’s league and perhaps the fate of all those affected by IAAN. Ruby will find herself facing her past, testing her loyalty and harnessing the ‘monster’ within.  The truth and the secret to the salvation of all the IAAN children is out there and it means dangerous times, impossible choices and heartbreaking moments are ahead not just for Ruby but for the ones she loves as well. Will Ruby let her loyalties trump her promise and just who can she and should she trust? The world is no longer black and white, in fact its full of colour, just how will Ruby break free of the deceptively cunning web of lies she is entangled in and how much of herself can she give in order to get everything she wants. It's darks days ahead for Ruby, just where she goes from here not even Ruby knows.

Sequels are always difficult territory especially when the first was so brilliant, as was the case with The darkest minds, but Never Fade doesn’t just match the brilliance of its predecessor it exceeds it in the most dramatic fashion. This book is no TDM 2.0, it is an outstanding novel in its own right; the plot is more action packed and fast paced, the characters are more complex and the atmosphere is darker and more sinister. In Never Fade gone is the scared little girl of the Darkest minds and welcomed in is the the new confident, tough and don’t mess with her Ruby who isn’t afraid to use her abilities. The girl has become a young woman intent on making a difference to the world rather than withdraw from it. While at times I didn’t like Ruby because of this and her self-deprecation, I can understand that it is all a part of growing up and this is really what Ruby is doing; finally growing up.  Liam also returns as a former shadow of himself, still heartbreakingly sweet yet in Never Fade we get to witness the nastier and darker side to his personality. I couldn’t help but mourn for the innocent girl and boy of The darkest minds. Spoiler alert the Ruby and Liam reunion is heartbreaking, gone is the innocence and freedom of their early relationship now betrayal and heartache dominate. That being said Bracken should be applauded for not letting the characters become static, far too often authors become fearful of maturing or changing the characters the readers have grown so attached to but Bracken has no such qualms and it adds to the authenticity of the characters and the overall story. New characters such as Vida are a brilliant addition to the ensemble; in contrast to Ruby Vida is a takes no prisoner kind of girl yet similarly fiercely protective of those she loves; it wonderful to watch the interaction between two girls who on the surface are vastly different yet at their very core similar. The future world Bracken delivers is also further constructed in this tale, as a reader we learn more about the Children’s League, IAAN, the government and Bracken alludes to even more being revealed.

Never Fade is  a classic YA story; it’s about coming of age, finding your identity and falling in love, yet unique in terms of the level of violence, harsh conditions and depth of character Bracken exhibits. Furthermore as a writer Bracken demonstrates the cleverness, humour and forethought to pen an intelligent tale, as well as three dimensional characters with hearts and souls that the reader cannot help but care about. Never Fade is a book of shades; Bracken explores typical themes such as right vs. wrong, motivation, choices and how behaviour is dictated by circumstance. These characters face everyday troubles in extreme circumstances and it is their struggle to make the tough call that endears them to the reader. As with its predecessor this story is full of betrayal in all forms, which forces the reader to join the character in questioning everything, from each characters motivations and choices. Additionally I loved how Bracken put on display the full spectrum of humanity, from the selfless acts of kindness to horrendous acts born out of fear and desperation. It’s a reminder that humans are their own worst enemy and yet each others best friend. The ending is as painfully fraught and cliff-hangery as the first, so sorry you may need the tissues again. This story has some of the best twist imaginable, the appearance of Lee’s brother in particular was fantastic and I loved the contradictory interaction between the pair; as with most siblings there seems to be a fine line between love and hate. I love a book with unpredictable characters and even more unpredictable storylines and Never Fade is one of those. This is YA fiction at its finest, its clever, imaginative, dramatic and intense read. Read, Read, Read….PLEASE J, you won’t be disappointed.

Courtney :)


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