The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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The basics

Title: The Darkest Minds

Author:

Series: The Darkest Minds #1

- The Darkest Minds (December 2012)
- Never Fade (October 2013)
- In the Afterlight (October 2014)

Add it: Goodreads

Goodreads Summary:

When Ruby woke up on her tenth birthday, something about her had changed. Something alarming enough to make her parents lock her in the garage and call the police. Something that gets her sent to Thurmond, a brutal government “rehabilitation camp.” She might have survived the mysterious disease that’s killed most of America’s children, but she and the others have emerged with something far worse: frightening abilities they cannot control.

Now sixteen, Ruby is one of the dangerous ones.

When the truth comes out, Ruby barely escapes Thurmond with her life. Now she’s on the run, desperate to find the one safe haven left for kids like her—East River. She joins a group of kids who escaped their own camp. Liam, their brave leader, is falling hard for Ruby. But no matter how much she aches for him, Ruby can’t risk getting close. Not after what happened to her parents.

When they arrive at East River, nothing is as it seems, least of all its mysterious leader. But there are other forces at work, people who will stop at nothing to use Ruby in their fight against the government. Ruby will be faced with a terrible choice, one that may mean giving up her only chance at a life worth living.

In short

It’s a bleak world. Kids are suddenly developing supernatural powers, and instead of being trained to use them, the adults imprison them in ‘rehabilitation centres’.

Ruby contracts the ‘disease’ on her tenth birthday, and is sent to Thurmond, the worst of the worst centres. After six years, she is escapes with the help of a member of the Children’s League, Cate. When she finds out that the League is not all that it claim to be, she runs away from Cate, and joins a group of three runaways, Liam, Chubs and Suzume.

Together, they head to East River, a safe haven for children like them, where they can live freely. It’s set up by a kid known only as the Slip Kid to the outside world, who is Clancy Gray, the president’s son, an Orange. The East River and Clancy turn out to be not all that wonderful, and when they try to leave, Clancy has Liam beaten up, and shuts them all in a cabin.

East River comes under attack from PSFs, who’ve infiltrated the camp with Clancy’s help. Liam, Chubs and Ruby manage to escape and go to their dead friend Jack’s father, to give him a letter from his son. Jack’s father shoots Chubs, and to save him, Ruby calls the Children’s League for help.

She ends up striking a bargain with them. In exchange for Liam and Chub’s freedom, she would work for them. Before Liam leaves, she erases his memory of her, so that he no longer remembers that he ever met her.

What went down

  • Ruby is in fourth grade when she first sees IAAN close up. Her classmate Grace dies. Soon after almost every child contracts the ‘disease’, and parents are encouraged to report any symptoms as soon as they appear.
  • On her tenth birthday, Ruby wakes up with the symptoms. Her parents claim no knowledge of who she is (because Ruby accidentally wipes their memories of her her the previous night). They freak out and call the authorities. Ruby is picked up by the PSFs and taken to Thurmond.
  • She dupes a classifier into thinking she’s a Green, because she’s seen what they do to the Oranges, and wants to stay safe, away from the spotlight. It’s the first time she’s used her power semi-consciously.
  • She becomes friends with Sam, who sleeps on the bunk above her. One day, when one of the PSFs are ragging Ruby, Sam stands up for her and is punished. When she returns to their cabin, she’s angry with Ruby as she expected her to defend her. While trying to sort it out with Sam, Ruby accidentally wipes her memory, and Sam forgets that she was ever friends with her.
  • About a year later, the PSFs use a new frequency of Calm Control, which tests for undetected Yellows, Oranges and Reds. Ruby’s bad reaction to it alerts the PSFs that she may be an Orange.
  • A volunteer, Dr. Cate, warns Ruby about the danger, and offers to help her escape the facility. She is smuggled out along with another Orange boy, Martin. Cate is from the Children’s League, and offers to protect Ruby, and teach her to use her powers. She give she a panic button that will help them find her if she wants them to.
  • When they stop to rendezvous with Cate’s partner, Rob, Ruby sees that he has just killed the two kids that he was supposed to rescue. While trying to escape Cate and Rob, Ruby stumbles onto another kid, Suzume, who’s also hiding.
  • Suzume leads her to Liam and Chubs (Charles), all three of them having escaped from a centre and are on the run. Ruby joins them, and they are chased by both Cate & Rob, and Lady Jane, who’s a skip tracer. They escape them with the help of Liam’s powers.
  • Liam, Chubs and Suzume are headed to the East River, a set up for kids like them where they can live freely. It’s headed by the Slip Kid, who can also help them get in contact with their parents. Their dead friend Jack has also left a letter to his father with them.
  • Ruby helps them figure out a clue about how to find the East River, suggesting that it may be an area code. They head to Virginia, and stop at a store warehouse for some supplies. From the kids living in the warehouse, Ruby learns another clue about the East River.
  • When they set out again, they’re caught by Lady Jane, a skip tracer who’s been chasing the three since their escape. She was also the one who first caught and handed over Liam to the authorities. Ruby helps them escape by using her powers.
  • They head to East River, where they meet the Slip Kid, who is none other than Clancy Gray, the president’s son, who, according to legend, was the first and only child to be cured at Thurmond. HE already knows of their existence, as everyone is on the lookout for the four kids.
  • Ruby learns that the Children’s League manipulate the escaped children into acting as weapons. Also, the Calm Control blast at Thurmond had been executed by them, and not the PSFs, as they claimed.
  • Clancy, another Orange, offers to teach Ruby how to use her powers. Liam is assigned to security, Chubs to gardening, and Suzume gets busy with learning and playing with her cousin, Hina. All four of them are separated and spend hardly any time together. Chubs is uneasy about the setup at the East River that closely resemble the one at the centers.
  • Clancy tells Ruby about how he escaped from Thurmond by using Mind Control, and how his father is now using the Reds as war weapons, but he has them taken care of, again, with hsi mental powers.
  • Suzume leaves East River to head home with Hina. Clancy gets frustrated that Ruby isn’t learning much from him. He forces her to show him how she wipes memories, and assaults her in the process, resulting in her fainting.
  • When Liam comes to know about what Clancy did, they decide to leave with Chubs. Clancy stops them. He uses mind control to set the other boys on Liam and beat him up. All three of them are them locked up in their cabin.
  • Lizzie, one of the campers, comes to tell Ruby that Clancy is injured and begs her to help him. When Ruby goes, it turns out to be a trick. The PSFs, helped by Clancy’s tip off, barge into the camp and open fire. Chubs helps Ruby escape Clancy.
  • Once they find Liam, they escape East River. They go to Jack’s father to give him the letter. After reading it, he shoots Chubs. Unable to help Chubs herself, Ruby activates the panic button that Cate gave her.

How did it end?

Chubs is taken care of by the Children’s League, and Liam and Ruby are taken to a safe house. Ruby demonstrates her powers on Martin, purposely wiping his memory, as a warning to Cate. She strikes a bargain with them, that she’ll work for them, as long as they let Liam go.

She goes to see Liam, where they talk about how they’d have still gotten together, even if the world was normal. Soon after, Ruby wipes his memory of her completely.

Liam leaves the safe house under the impression that Chubs has gone home, and the Children’s League simply helped him heal when he was injured.

Ruby stays back, held by her promise that she’d help them. But she knows not to trust them. And she’ll never let them see her fear.

anything else

IAAN: Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. A condition that manifests itself at the onset of adolescence. It gives children superpowers. Children with IAAN are classified into five categories based on their powers.

Red: Fire

Orange: Mind Control

Yellow: Electricity

Blue: Telekinesis

Green: Intelligence

Calm Control: White noise set at a frequency that only Psi kids can hear. It is extremely painful, and used at Thurmond to keep the kids in line.

Children’s League: An organisation dedicated to helping children affected by the government’s new laws. Oh, and they also train Psi kids to be used as their weapons.

Skip Tracers: Bounty hunters who track down kids who’ve run away from centres.

West Coast/Federal Coalition: The section of the government that opposes the Gray presidency.

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