Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 340
The Darkest Minds is a science fiction novel by Alexandra Bracken. It concerns the sudden emergence of a lethal disease epidemic known as Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration (IAAN). The plague decimates the world's population of children, but it endows the remaining 10% with strange abilities. In response, the government places these children in concentration camps under the auspices of scientific investigation and stratifies them according to their abilities.
The novel focuses on several of these children as they grapple with their newfound powers. Ruby Daly gains the power to erase memory just by touching another individual; she accidentally causes her mother to forget her identity and lash out in hostility. Ruby's mother sends her to one of the camps, where she is initially classified as dangerous but uses her power to trick an agent into reclassifying her as innocuous.
Eventually, Ruby's power is discovered. A doctor named Cate Begbie reveals that she belongs to a team of rebels, and she helps Ruby escape. She introduces her to a colleague who makes Ruby suspicious. Ruby then escapes with a girl named Suzume, who introduces her to more friends: Zu, Liam, and Charles ("Chubs"). They team up at an abandoned mall to get supplies and meet another party. This party gives them a code that contains a radio frequency through which they learn the location of a child sanctuary.
After the main characters reach it, the sanctuary is infiltrated by the child son of the government's president, Clancy, who steals Ruby's powers and destroys the camp in a spar with her. Ruby escapes with Chubs and Liam, using a signaling pendant to call Cate for help.
Ruby and Liam are saved by Cate's colleagues. Chubs is given medical aid, and Zu reunites with her lost family. Cate releases Liam in exchange for Ruby enlisting herself as a soldier. Ruby bids him farewell and erases his memories of her to sever their romantic ties. Liam departs the camp while Ruby begins training. The novel ends by revealing that Clancy is raising his own army.