This is the second in a series, so obviously some spoilers for the first book are going to be mentioned. For my review of the first book, The Darkest Minds, go here.
Never Fade picks up six months after the events of the first book. Ruby has joined The Children’s League and has been training with them. She’s learned to control her abilities, and to fight and defend herself as well. She goes out on missions for the League, while also trying to find a way to do something about the camps that house the children with abilities. After a rescue mission of Cole Stewart, Liam’s brother, goes awry (but is still successful) Ruby is set on a path to find Liam and retrieve a USB drive that might contain information that could help free the camps. The search for this USB drive sets her on a cross-country journey with two of her fellow League kids, Jude and Vida. They face a whole new set of dangers outside the walls of the League headquarters, and have to face the growing division of those who value the kids’ abilities and those who want to use them to make a statement.
Sometimes middle books in trilogies feel like they’re just filling space until the last one because trilogies are all the rage right now. Thankfully, this one completely avoided all that. This book is frenetically paced, something is always happening, but yet it doesn’t feel meaningless. You can see how Ruby has matured and grown since we last saw her. Also, there are no cop outs here – there are a few brutal moments in here that surprised me for being in YA fiction. I think my favorite thing about this, though, was how Bracken explored the consequences of Ruby’s use of her abilities – specifically with Liam, and earlier with her parents and Sam. The idea that she can take someone’s memories of her but not their feelings, I just loved it. It makes sense with her gift and it’s sad and horrifying to think about the experience of that person.
Ruby continues to be a great character, and her evolution is so much fun, and sometimes painful, to read. Ruby deals with a lot of crap, and has to make impossible decisions, but she comes out the other end stronger for it and is just a kick ass heroin. This is especially evident when she meets up with Clancy again, and is having none of shit. I may or may not have been cheering during much of their interaction (I totally was).
This is a great second book and I am hopeful that the third will round out an excellent trilogy.