Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 277

A novel about disease and the turmoil it can incite, The Darkest Minds raises questions about how responsibility to secure the common good in the face of epidemic can be balanced with individual liberties. Although dystopian, the book nevertheless ends on a note of hope but leaves many questions open—in part because it is the first book of a series. It focuses on a strong protagonist, Ruth, a girl seeking her own identity while growing up marked by serious condition—whether gift or affliction; thus it is also a coming-of-age story. Although Ruth is presented in an extreme situation, her dilemma seems universal through the commonality of feeling different.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Darkest Minds Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Disease is used literally as a central issue, so the novel suggests associations with recent health crises such as AIDS and Ebola. The children who survive when affected with a neurodegenerative disorder, called IAAN, are removed from society, supposedly for everyone’s safety, and taken to camps to be rehabilitated. Numerous instances of medical mistreatment of involuntarily detained victims—whether Nazi Germany, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, or lobotomization—are also evoked.

Ruth struggles to stay true to herself while facing the fact that her condition renders her dangerous and that she has also harmed her family; having the ability to erase memories, she accidentally did so to her own mother. The bonds that Ruth forms at the camp, and the ways she and the other children join forces to resist the abuses, give a sense of a new society in formation. Yet in the choices she makes and challenges she faces to control her power show the internal as well as external qualities needed for social cohesion.


Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 260

The Darkest Minds is a novel that starts out with the discovery that some illness is killing children who have reached the age of ten. The children who survive end up with strange abilities. The story follows two such survivors named Ruby and Lee.

As is classic for Young Adult or YA fiction, the children are...

(The entire section contains 537 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Darkest Minds study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Darkest Minds content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Themes
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Quotes
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial