Published: October 15th 2013 by HarperCollins
Format: Paperback, 508 pages
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Ruby never asked for the abilities that almost cost her her life. Now she must call upon them on a daily basis. 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 - in the hands of Liam Stewart, the boy Ruby once believed was her future and who now wouldn't recognise her.
As Ruby sets out across a desperate, lawless country to find Liam, 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 survival was never an option?
Never Fade is a powerful followup to Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds, a book that I absolutely loved. I’ve waited until I had the last instalment of the series, In the Afterlight, to read Never Fade because the end of The Darkest Minds killed me.
I was thrilled to be back with Ruby in the cruel (but incredibly well imagined) world that she lives in where most of the children in the US are dead from a mysterious virus called IAAN, and the survivors have developed psychic powers. Some kids are telekinetic, or pyrokinetic, others still can manipulate electrical signals. Ruby is classified as one of the most dangerous because she can break into people’s minds to control them or erase their memories.
Ruby’s one of my favourite YA protagonists EVER because of her resilience and the way she cares for everyone around her. She makes real connections with people even when she’s trying to protect her heart and hold herself aloof from others. People gravitate towards her, and even though she’s always seen Liam as a natural leader, she’s got many qualities that make her a great leader too.
Which is something the Children’s League pick up on – they make Ruby the Leader of one of their teams that go on missions to obtain government secrets. Ruby hates the Children’s League, who exploit children with abilities for their own means, and is planning to break out at the first opportunity that presents itself. She’s also still recovering from what happened at the end of the last book where she was separated her friends and the boy she loves.
My favourite aspect of the book is the astonishing character growth that Ruby and the other characters go through. As a member of the League Ruby has to use her powers often, questioning the morality of what she’s doing as the process becomes easier and easier. The two new characters, Jude and Vida, also grow a lot throughout the book and it was great to see Ruby establish relationships with them. I really like Vida in particular – her rude and abrasive behaviour contrasts nicely with her always-nice intentions.
I mentioned that I love the world-building in this book. One of the things I’m always looking for in this kind of end-of-the-USA-as-we-know-it books is how the rest of the world reacts to the situation. So many books just ignore the rest of the world and pretend that the USA IS the world, which of course, it isn’t. Although it was addressed briefly in The Darkest Minds, the issue of how the world handled America’s melt-down is explored more fully in Never Fade. The author intentionally leaves things vague, but I think the next book will delve into the matter more because there are still many unanswered questions.
I have really enjoyed Never Fade, which has surpassed the excellence of its predecessor and has me super-excited for In the Afterlight. It’s a thrilling, explosive read that I recommend to everyone who liked The Darkest Minds: this series definitely doesn’t suffer from Second Book Syndrome. I recommend the series to fans of post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels, especially those who enjoyed Mike Mullin’s Ashfall series and Ilsa J. Bick’s Ashes trilogy.