This Darkness Mine – Mindy McGinnis

two starGenre: Young Adult 
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Sasha Stone knows her place—first-chair clarinet, top of her class, and at the side of her oxford-wearing boyfriend. She’s worked her entire life to ensure that her path to Oberlin Conservatory as a star musician is perfectly paved.

But suddenly there’s a fork in the road, in the shape of Isaac Harver. Her body shifts toward him when he walks by, her skin misses his touch even though she’s never known it, and she relishes the smell of him—smoke, beer, and trouble—all the things she’s avoided to get where she is. Even worse, every time he’s near Sasha, her heart stops, literally. Why does he know her so well—too well—and she doesn’t know him at all?

Sasha discovers that her by-the-book life began by ending another’s: the twin sister she absorbed in the womb. But that doesn’t explain the gaps of missing time in her practice schedule or the memories she has of things she certainly never did with Isaac. As Sasha loses her much-cherished control, her life—and heart—become more entangled with Isaac. Armed with the knowledge that her heart might not be hers alone, Sasha must decide what she’s willing to do—and who she’s willing to hurt—to take it back.

I went into This Darkness Mine expecting a twisted and dark story about a descent into madness coupled with an all-encompassing romance. Honestly, I was expecting something similar to the Mara Dyer trilogy. Unfortunately, This Darkness Mine is disappointing in every sense of the word. The characters are all unlikeable, especially the main character, the romance is lackluster, and the themes touched upon offer nothing of value to any discussion.

Throughout the entire novel, not a single character has any redeeming qualities. The main character, Sasha, spends most of the novel being incredibly judgmental while trying her hardest to not sympathize with anyone or anything that does not direct impact her. Her friends are annoying and naïve. Her parents are typical young adult parents, meaning they’re unimportant to the plot. Not a single one of these characters was able to move me or make me feel any sort of emotion other than annoyance and anger at their stupidity and ridiculousness.

The romance been Sasha and Issac is one of the worst cases of instalove I’ve ever read. There was absolutely no build up or mystery. McGinnis relies heavily on the good girls falls in love with the bad boy trope. She relies on it so heavily that the reader is never given any information about why or how Issac is bad other than the brief mention of a parole officer and his habit of smoking.

McGinnis touched upon a lot of themes throughout the novel. Themes of mental health, racism, and good vs. bad were the most prominent. However, McGinnis add nothing of note or value to the discussions. The theme of good vs. bad is primarily dealt with through Sasha’s character. Unfortunately, Sasha is a horrible person throughout the entire novel. She doesn’t devolve into a “bad” person because she was already unlikeable to begin with thereby making any point McGinnis was trying to make moot.

The only aspect of this novel I enjoyed was the writing and it’s the reason I rated it two stars instead of one. McGinnis has a dark and gritty way of describing emotions and situations. It’s deliciously dark, but not enough to save the novel.

“People are always surprises when roses have a few thorns, like the girls who wear khakis and live with our natural hair color aren’t ever going to bite.”

Overall, This Darkness Mine is an absolute disappointment that I would not recommend to anyone.

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