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Meet July's *powerful* pick for Chloe's Book Club: The Darkest Minds

Welcome back to Chloe’s Book Club — community for book lovers from Chloe Lukasiak and Girls’ Life magazine. We're in the heat of the summer and it's *officially* beach-read season (aka our favorite time of the year) and it just-so happens that our July installment is the perfect page-turner for your week-long seaside getaway.

If you're new here, hi! Here's how this works: Each month we’re reading, discussing and obsessing over a new book; so if you haven’t signed up already, be sure to CLICK THIS LINK and officially join the club. (We’ll email you with Chloe’s Book Club updates, reading guides, special contests and giveaways, event invitations and more.)

Here's a quick guide to everything you'll find inside this post (and beyond). Just remember, *major spoilers* are ahead (so look for the spoiler ratings before you read!).

THE DARKEST MINDS — THE BOOK CLUB AT-A-GLANCE
+ The Recap
+ Chloe's Commentary
+ The Party-Planning Guide
+ Chloe's Discussion Questions
+ The Giveaway
+ Details on how to participate
+ Buy the book — and get 15% off with our B&N discount code!

The thrilling July edition of Chloe’s Book Club stars The Darkest Minds, an action-packed and heart-wrenching story about the *power* of being different by best-selling author Alexandra Bracken. To get 15% off your copy, head over to Barnes & Noble and use the code chloereads at checkout (offer available through through July 31, 2018). Pssst: Be sure to share this exclusive code with all the babes in your book club!

Ready to get started? Read on...


Spoiler level: Moderate

There’s no getting around it: Psi kids are dangerous. Well, that’s what their parents and the corrupt government would like you to believe, anyway. In the not-so-distant future of Alexandra Bracken’s enthralling The Darkest Minds, the majority of the adolescent population has been wiped out by a deadly disease. The few that survived developed powerful abilities lethal enough to get ripped away from their families and shipped off to cramped, hostile rehabilitation camps to be “cured.”

The truth? It’s these wonderfully diverse powers—each classified by a color—that make the Psi kids so special. Some can control electricity (yellow), some have fire power at their fingertips (red) and some possess super smarts (green).

Fast forward five years and we meet Ruby Daly, a green teen stuck in Camp Thurmond—until someone breaks her out *and* informs her that she’s not a green at all. No, she's actually an orange, meaning she has the rarest power of them all: the ability to read and influence the thoughts of others.

Soon enough, Ruby realizes that there are more kids just like her: scared for their lives and on the run, and simultaneously fighting together for a better future where they're not repressed and kept under lock and key. Enter Liam, Zu and Chubs, three such kids who barely made it out of their own camp alive.

Between time spent road tripping in their run-down van (affectionately named Black Betty), working together to evade life-threatening skip tracers who want to turn them in, mastering their powers and seeking shelter everywhere from an abandoned Walmart to the bank of the East River, the four unlikely friends find family in one another—all while dealing with the pain of being torn away from their own.

From there, it's full speed ahead into the beginnings of a revolution quietly bubbling under the surface. At the same time, a romance blossoms between Ruby and Liam, a Southern boy with the power of telekinesis (blue). The tortured pair soon realize that although they've been put in unthinkable circumstances, it's those exact circumstances that will bond them for life—no matter what happens in the end.

Through Alexandra Bracken's carefully crafted and charismatic characters (not to mention every single enthralling action scene), we're reminded that although difficult situations may bring out our darkest colors, they also shed light on what’s really important: fighting for your destiny.


Spoiler level: High

If you haven’t read The Darkest Minds yet, it might seem hard to believe that a book about teens with other-worldly powers could be so relatable—being able to create fire from thin air or move objects with your mind is something that most of us *probably* haven’t experienced (although if you can, and you’re reading this, that’s amazing! I’m jealous). But feeling different, or even like an outcast, is something that many of us will go through—either at one time, or at many times, in our lives.
 
In The Darkest Minds, the kids with these special abilities are treated like outcasts…which, TBH, isn’t that different from how unique individuals are treated by “normal” people (whatever that even means, anyway…) in real life. It’s heartbreaking, but society has always had a tendency to distance itself from those who don’t conform or fit the mold—and that’s why I used to be so concerned with fitting in.
 
When I was younger, I felt like there were two different parts of me that were in direct conflict with each other: I was a girly girl who loved to dance and spent all my time at the studio…but then I also really self-identified as what many would call “nerdy”—I loved Star Wars, Marvel, Lord of the Rings. And I still do!
 
But back then, some of my friends would be like, “Ew, no, I would never watch Star Wars,” which made me feel like a really big part of me didn’t fit in—not just with my friends, but with myself. I felt like I had to lie and hide who I really was when I spent time around certain people.
 
It eventually got so bad that I did something I would *never* recommend to anyone reading this: I shoved that side of me down. I didn’t read the books that I had always been so obsessed with, I didn’t watch the movies I loved that all my friends thought were weird. Instead, I watched the popular shows—about fashion and dating and "typical" teen life—that everyone else was always talking about.
 
But then, one day, I was just having a really tough time—worst mood, bad day. So I picked up a sci-fi fantasy book that I knew would help me escape and get out of my head for a bit...and I felt better immediately. Right then I knew that I had to disregard silly stereotypes and embrace both sides of me; I realized that this dichotomy was what made me my unique and individual self.

Do I have Ruby's ability to read minds with the touch of my hand? Nope. But, just like her, I've embraced *every* single side of myself—even the parts I was once ashamed of. And that's powerful. 


Spoiler level: Moderate

For years, the Psi kids in The Darkest Minds have been punished simply for being who they are. They have these incredible abilities, yet they aren't able to use them—let alone harness them fully.

While we might not know what it's like to have Psi abilities, everyone knows what it's like to be different. The antidote? A "Be You" party. Here's the vibe...

Dress Code
There's no dress code at this get-together! Wear whatever feels the most *you.* If that's a faux fur-covered cape with a sequin-detailed tutu, WERK IT. If that's a graphic T and ripped jeans, wear it like it's going out of style. No matter what, if there's a daring look you've always felt was too daunting to rock, put it on for this shindig and SLAY.

Drinks
Whip up a bevy of bevvies in a rainbow of colors and flavors. Fab and fruity punch, orange creamsicle soda floats, classic lemonade, kale and celery green juice, blueberry and plum smoothie and, ofc, a pleasing pink fresh watermelon water. Assign yourself a power—choose one from TDM or make up your own—and sip sip!

Food
Just like the hard-working kitchen crew at the East River, gather together your friends for a make-and-bake food sesh. Essentially, each guest brings fresh ingredients for a dish they heart, and then everyone starts whipping up the recipes together. Too many cooks in the kitchen? Nah, that's not a thing, trust!

Activities
Time to show off *your* amazing abilities. Are you a terrific baton twirler? An ace poet? A perfect painter? Step right up and let your best babes in on the secret of how fabulously cool—and different!—you are with a show-and-tell talent show.

Decor
Take a page from the rainbow once again and give your space the ROYGBIV treatment: red streamers, yellow balloons, orange plates and cups—you get the picture. The best part? Color blocking is always on trend. 


 Spoiler level: High

1. On page 203, Ruby says that she and the other kids have been made to feel that their abilities are “unnatural.” Have you ever been made to feel like you don’t belong? What other things did that make you feel? When that happens, what do you do to move past those feelings?

2. On page 228, Ruby suggest that there’s some part of everyone that’s tuned into the memories of a place. Are there specific places that hold significant memories for you, whether that’s a concert venue, your grandmother's house or your middle school. Why do you think you possess such strong memories of those places? How have those places shaped you as a person?

3. On page 273, we learn that Liam wants nothing more than to help all Psi kids break out of their rehab camps and eradicate the camps altogether. He’s determined to do it. What was the last thing that you set your mind to and completed? What's something that you’re determined to do this summer, the upcoming school year? How do you plan to meet those goals?

4. On page 281, we finally met Lady Jane, the skip tracer searching for the highly sought-after Liam. A few pages later, when Ruby saves Liam, Chubs and Zu from her wrath, Ruby finally reveals to them that she’s an orange and not a green. What’s something that you’ve lied about in the past? Why did you lie? How did it make you feel? Why do you feel that people keep secrets?

5. On pages 303 and 304, Liam and Chubs demonstrate understanding and empathy when they tell Ruby that they wouldn’t have kicked her out of the group simply because she’s not green and that she lied about it. Can you recall a time someone was understanding and empathetic toward you? And vice versa?

6. On page 316, the tagline for the book is referenced: “It’s time to carpe the hell out of this diem.” This phrase is rooted in the popular Latin phrase “Carpe diem,” which means to "seize the day,” AKA to take advantage of your life and opportunities. How do you seize the day? Why do you feel it’s important to do so?

7. On page 355, Ruby is training with Clancy, an orange who's also the president's son, and admits to herself that’s she is afraid to try to control her abilities because of how much she doesn’t know about them—and herself—yet. Have you ever let fear keep you from trying something you wanted to try? What was the outcome? How did that make you feel?

8. On page 416, Clancy uses his mind-bending powers to suggest to Ruby that she wants to be intimate with him, and then he makes advances on her. How did it make you feel to read this passage? Do you think this classifies as sexual assault? Why or why not?

9. On page 456, Chubs implies that—at the end of the day—Clancy is essentially a bully, and he just so happens to be a very powerful one. Have you ever been bullied? How did you react? In the next book, what fate do you hope awaits Clancy?

Five book-loving babes will win the ultimate The Darkest Minds book set: They’ll snag all five novels in the series: The Darkest Minds, Never Fade, In the Afterlight, Through the Dark and The Darkest Legacy (out July 31). You'll *also* win a pair of passes to see the big-screen adaption of The Darkest Minds starring Amandla Stenberg when it hits theaters on Aug. 3!

Ready to enter—and, fingers crossed, win? Here's how: 1) CLICK HERE to sign up for the Chloe’s Book Club newsletter (you must be on the newsletter list to win!). 2) Make sure you're logged into your GL account, then scroll down to the bottom of this post and click on the pink "Enter" button as many times as you want between now and July 31 at 11:59 P.M. EST. 3) We'll announce one winner right here on Monday, August 2. Good luck!

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So you've read the book and you're ready to talk all things TDM? Wondering *exactly* how Chloe’s Book Club works and what it means to be a member? There are so many ways you can get involved—whether it’s solo, on social media or with your whole squad. Here's a quick list…
+ SOLO. Take your personal reading game to the next level by using Chloe's discussion questions as a guide for your own journaling and personal reflection. If you love to read, it could be fun to start a special book diary where you keep track of all your favorite novels—and the personal musings they inspired.
+ ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Share your thoughts on The Darkest Minds using the hashtags #chloesbookclub and #thedarkestminds on Twitter and Instagram. (Just remember: You have to have a public account for us to be able to see and respond to your posts!)
+ WITH YOUR SQUAD. Host an IRL book club party, of course! Check out the party-planning guide above for ideas — then be sure to tag us in your snaps so we can share them.

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ICYMI: Our besties at Barnes & Noble are hooking you up with 15% off your copy of The Darkest Minds—so be sure share this exclusive offer with all the babes in your book club! Click here to find the book on the B&N website. When you get to checkout, type in the code chloereads and hit "apply." Proceed with checkout as usual.

And...that's it! Click the pink button below (you must be logged in) to enter the giveaway. Good luck, book clubbers!

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by Chloe Lukasiak + Chloe's Book Club | 6/7/2018
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