I have been looking for this book but I'm clueless about the title or the author, and the google searches with the plot details I remember have been useless so far. But perhaps somebody here knows the book I'm talking about, so here it goes.

I read it after year 2000 and no later than 2008, but it could have been published decades earlier for all I know.

The plot was about a group of teenagers that lived in a school, in a kind of dystopian future. They had never been outside of the school building. They had no contact with the world outside, nor any idea of what was outside the school. There were no adults in the school and the teachers were robots. I remember something about recorded tape lessons. Perhaps the "teachers" were recorded video tapes, or the robots were basically playing lessons recorded in video tapes.

Somehow, at the end of the book, the robot-teacher breaks and the teenagers get out of the school to discover the world outside. And there is where the story ends, as far as I remember, the book never tells what do the teenagers actually find outside the school.

I think that the book was narrated in first person from the perspective of a boy, but I'm not sure.

Maybe there were some clues in the story about something very bad having happened long ago and the teenagers having been put in that school to save them from a disaster in the world outside and the rest of the civilization being gone after that disaster.

The book wasn't very long, probably not more than 200 pages, perhaps less. And I think it was addressed to a teenager audience.

This is all I can remember about that book. I know the details are very vague, but if by chance anybody knows the book I'm talking about, I'll be very grateful to be able to find it again.


3 Answers 3


Sounds a bit like E.G. Von Wald's "HEMEAC", except that at the end it's people from outside who come in rather than vice versa.

One of the outsiders asks "What do we do with them? They're nothing but living robots", and Hemeac feels a warm glow of pride at the compliment.

Does that ring a bell?

  • I've read over HEMEAC and I think that might be it, thanks!
    – Avalander
    Aug 5, 2018 at 13:25

I'm a little pessimistic about this answer, but the scenario you describe has some things in common with The Overman Culture, a 1971 novel by Edmund Cooper.

The Book Club edition blurb quoted by Goodreads says:

"Michael had a good memory. He could remember things significant & insignificant. He remembered--if hazily--when he was young enough to be fed milk only. He remembered the odd child who disappeared from playschool & he remembered the other child who fell (or was pushed?) from the high window & lay all smashed & crumpled on the ground, but not bleeding & he remembered how he'd wanted to know about words, how you could keep them, how you could fix them--perhaps like a drawing--forever."

"Time seems to have run amok. London is governed by Queen Victoria & Winston Churchill, populated by young people called 'fragiles' & others called 'drybones' because they don't bleed. The young fragiles come to realize that they're the last of their kind--whatever kind that might be."

It is many years since I read it but I remember that the child protagonist, Michael Faraday, eventually discovers that those of his friends who can bleed are the only real humans. Their parents, teachers and those children who do not bleed are all robots. The humans were recreated from DNA samples or something like that in order to repopulate the Earth after some catastrophe. I forget exactly why the robots wanted to do this, but it might have been because they lacked creativity and purpose without humans. The anachronisms about their setting (Queen Victoria co-existing with Messerschmitt fighters and so on) were deliberately put in place to make the human children grow up to be questioning and curious.

Here are some of the points where The Overman Culture differs from what you recall of the book you are looking for: the children weren't confined in school but they were confined to London. The teachers were robots, but appeared to be human. On the other hand it is listed as being 191 pages long, about what you remember, and some of the reviews describe it as being "an easy read", though not specifically a YA book.

I also suggested this book as the answer to another question here.

  • Thank you for the answer! It sounds a bit different of what I remember, but it's worth of taking a look.
    – Avalander
    Aug 9, 2016 at 7:25

The book I believe you are talking about is Variant by Robison Wells.

  • 7
    Can you explain how this book matches the description in the post?
    – Valorum
    Jan 22, 2018 at 23:50
  • It can't be Variant, it was definitely published before 2011. Also, the children had no families and had never left the school perimeter.
    – Avalander
    Aug 5, 2018 at 12:59

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