Good grief this book was long and tedious. It could have ended at least half a dozen times but it just kept going. I think it was about 500 pages and for most of it my eyes were just glazed over. Not all young adult dystopian novels are equal.
The main character Ruby was flat and I didn't care or feel connected to the secondary characters at all. This needed edited to make the story more coherent.
Ruby is 16 and is one of the children who has been shipped off and locked away. A mysterious disease has wiped out half the children in the United States and the rest that lived are develop special abilities. This first book seriously reads like the X-Men comics.
Ruby lived in Thurmond, a rehabilitation camp where the kids are tested and forced to work. When a secret comes out concerning Ruby's real abilities she is broken out of Thurmond and eventually escapes again with a unlikely group of kids.
Ruby is not confident and flails around for most of this book. I honestly wish Bracken had taken time to develop Ruby more. But instead she jumps back and forth to see what happened to Ruby and her family (that took like almost 300 pages to get there) with more time spent on Ruby mooning over the character of Liam.
The writing was purple prose at times, but mostly just needed streamlined. There was no flow. Each chapter felt like and "now this other thing is happening".
I didn't think the world building worked at all. There were too many plot holes with the children developing IAAN. It also doesn't make sense with children dying off, the government would then round up children to test and then have them making shoes in a factory. The testing of some of the kids gets explained later, but it didn't work for me. I'm also confused if this has spread worldwide and what other countries are doing to deal with IAAN. It also sounds like in five years the US government has gone to crap with the President for life and I don't know if the country would really sit back and not allow elections or Congress to be shut down.
I also rolled my eyes at the kids being sorted by colors (enjoy reading about blues, greens, yellows, reds, and oranges). At one point I had a terrible flashback to Divergent.
The setting moves constantly though Ruby, Liam, Chubs, eventually make it to East River where they come across the leader, Clancy Gray.
The ending was a meh moment to me. Bracken only did it to set up some angst in the series I am sure.
I read this for Kill Your Darlings, but am now switching to read it for/claim Severus Snape. One of the characters, Clancy Gray is morally ambiguous and this was published after 1990 (published in 2012).