I read a book series a few years back about a dystopian type of society that was surrounded by some kind of barrier. The girl (the main character) is looking outside the barrier at night and sees a light, but I believe no one is supposed to be alive outside the barrier because of radiation. Somehow she finds a way to break out of the barrier or the boy (the other main character) breaks in and then she may break out with.

She lives with her grandma, aunt or some relative right on the edge by the barrier. Eventually she comes to find out that this relative knew of the people outside the barrier and had fallen in love with one of them a long time ago. She stays behind when the girl escapes with the boy.

I loved this series. I remember it having two books and there was a third coming out or I was waiting for the library to get the book in. It had a black cover with a simple picture of a barrier and I believe it was tinted green. I remember the titles of each book being something simple.

  • 2
    Can you remember anything else that might help? What age was the girl? What was her name or the names of any of the characters? What kind of society was it? What kind of barrier was it (physical, force-field, something else)? How many years is "a few years back"?
    – Valorum
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 8:30
  • Anything you can add would be great. The trope of a cut-off society is common enough that this might be hard to match with just this. Off the top of my head, I can think of two or three that are close but don't seem right (Innocent Mage, one of Garth Nix's, even one of the Myst?). The kind of barrier would go a long way.
    – Radhil
    Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 12:31
  • Is it called 'The Line', by Teri Hall? That series included 'Away', and 'The Island'. Commented Aug 3, 2016 at 19:18
  • Could it be Deviants by Maureen McGowan? Seems somewhat similar but the cover on the copy I read was different. It's also not a series… I'm not sure why I suggest it.
    – AJL
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 23:58

7 Answers 7


There Once Were Stars and Pure

It’s very odd, but this almost certainly has to be There Once Were Stars, by Melanie MacFarlane.

  • Female protagonist.
  • Lives with her grandmother:

    The clock on my dresser reads eight o’clock in the morning. It’s been nine years since I moved in with my grandparents, and saying Grandmother and I have differing opinions barely touches the surface. Her rules are sometimes worse than those of the Order, who police the dome. With any luck, I’ll be assigned my own apartment soon, and will finally be able to restart my life again.

  • In a dome:

    I trace the row of stitches, squeezing my eyes shut as I make a wish; it is my eighteenth birthday, after all. But when I open them, the same scene shows from my bedroom window that always does—the grid of our dome. Nothing changes. It doesn’t matter how many birthday wishes are made; I always wake up trapped inside the dome. The grid of thick glass and steel arcs far above our apartment, stretching to where the great Axis, a tower of government offices, meets the peak of our home—Dome 1618.

  • And she sees a light outside the dome, where no one should be (admittedly, not at night):

    Another light flashes, but this time it’s in the distance, on the other side of the glass. I lean forward, focusing on the light, and see a shadow move on the other side. My entire body goes rigid, and my heart beat thunders in my ears. No one could be out there—unless—could it be an Infected?

  • Because of radiation:

    They were all killed by the Cleansing War—everything was. If the nukes didn’t kill them, the nuclear fallout afterward would have.

  • And the protagonist finds her way out of the dome.

  • And she stays behind while the protagonist escapes with a boy:

    We make our way outside the dome. When I feel the open air against my face, I know I’m finally free. The night sky stretches out above me. The moon and stars light my way toward the life my mother wanted me to have. I turn and see other people flowing out of the open dome. In the distance, I can hear music in the air. People are celebrating.

    I look out into the skies of the mysterious beyond. My fingers reach over and entwine with Evan’s. I whisper, just loud enough so he can hear me.

I think the poster might be conflating it with Pure, which visually has the description they mention:

book cover, blue butterfly in a dome

It was published a few years back, and is in a series of books with simple titles. The element of some relative falling in love with someone outside the dome might have come from there (misremembered).

However, the first book was published only six months before this question, which seems like a very short time both to read it and forget enough conflate it with another book.

  • I have to agree with your last comment but it's not impossible. But it really does match Commented May 25, 2017 at 11:55

I’m convinced this is the Vega Jane series.

Titles like “finisher” “keeper” She can fly with a chain. Is imprisoned in a dome by an 800 year old being. Crossing the quag filled with beasts. Lives in a simple town of wormwood I believe as a trinket finisher

  • Another answer already mentioned this, but I am not sure to what extent this matches. There is a somewhat dystopian society surrounded by a barrier, but does the rest match? For instance, does the main character live with her grandmother? Is there radiation outside the barrier? The book that I indicated in the main answer matches almost every plot point. Also, from a look at the second book in the series, this series has a very large number of distinctive supernatural elements that surely would have been mentioned in the question.
    – Adamant
    Commented Sep 8, 2022 at 16:15

I don’t know how old this is, but I just dug myself a hole trying to find the book you’re describing as well and it’s titled Delirium (2011).

In an alternate United States, love has been declared a dangerous disease, and the government forces everyone who reaches eighteen to have a procedure called the Cure. Living with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Portland, Maine, Lena Haloway is very much looking forward to being cured and living a safe, predictable life. She watched love destroy her mother and isn't about to make the same mistake.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena meets enigmatic Alex, a boy from the "Wilds" who lives under the government's radar. What will happen if they do the unthinkable and fall in love?

  • I have read Delirium and the sequels and I do not recall matching the plot elements in the question. Could you explain how or if it does?
    – Adamant
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 3:23

It sounds remarkably similar to City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.

  • Underground city, the 'barrier' is darkness.
  • Girl protagonist with secondary boy protagonist.
  • Lives with Grandmother.
  • Sees lights beyond the 'barrier'
  • Escapes with boy leaving everyone else behind
  • Dark cover with a depiction of a lightbulb resembling a barrier

There are differences but this is immediately what I thought of.


Maybe Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she's never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.

Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He's searching for someone too. He's also wild—a savage—but might be her best hope at staying alive.

If they can survive, they are each other's best hope for finding answers.


The Keeper (2015), by David Baldacci seems similar

Master storyteller David Baldacci is back with Vega Jane, the heroine with the iron will from his instant #1 global bestselling and award-winning fantasy debut, The Finisher. Vega Jane was always told no one could leave the town of Wormwood. She was told there was nothing outside but the Quag, a wilderness filled with danger and death. And she believed it–until the night she stumbled across a secret that proved that everything she knew was a lie. Now just one thing stands between Vega Jane and freedom–the Quag. In order to leave Wormwood and discover the truth about her world, Vega and her best friend Delph must find a way to make it across a terrifying land of bloodthirsty creatures and sinister magic.

cover: woman walking into Serling yellow energy

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to SF&F. This doesn't do a very good job of answering the question, because you haven't provided any details of the story that would allow us to see if it matches. Also, the screenshot of a web page with almost no details doesn't help at all. Please include a description of the plot of the book and how it matches the question.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 22:18

I think I found what you're looking for. It is a novel series named Gone (2008) by Michael Grant.

From Goodreads:

There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what's happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It's a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your 15th birthday, you disappear just like everyone else...

I think that it is. You can also refer to Wikipedia.

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