I'm trying to find the name of a book I read in the early-to-mid '90's, from my school's library (in Canada, should that help). I'm pretty sure it was a young adult novel.

From what I can remember, it involved a youth (I think a boy) becoming disillusioned with his primitive village and its superstitious people, and setting out on a journey, beyond the boundaries of his village (which were marked by metal stakes with coloured stripes or ribbons) into the wilderness beyond. He eventually discovers a cave, which turns out to be a man-made structure.

Here is a list of points I remember:

  • Rural village, superstitious/fearful elders imposing many taboos on the people, including one against leaving.
  • Our protagonist, a young man (or woman) leaves village against elders' wishes, and it is implied that he wouldn't be welcome to return again.
  • The village boundary is marked with a metal pole (which is unusual as the villagers don't have metal of it's quality) with a coloured ribbon or stripe on it.
  • I have vague memory of the character fighting his way upstream along a cliffside during his journey.
  • 1
    I immediately thought of Monica Hughes, a Canadian young-adult science fiction author, but I haven't been able to trace this back to any of her books.
    – Pixel
    Jan 25, 2017 at 19:28
  • 2
    Was it The Guardian of Isis? Matches the "taboo" reference and much of the plot anyway.
    – Trenin
    Jan 25, 2017 at 19:42
  • Thanks! I'm pretty sure that's it, although I seem to be misremembering a lot of the details judging by the Wiki synopsis. I definitely recognise the cover though. Now all I have to do is find a copy... Jan 27, 2017 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


So I've finished reading The Keeper of the Isis Light and The Guardian of Isis by Monica Hughes, and they immediately came back to me as I was reading them. While a lot of information was misremembered, I can confidently say that this series (particularly The Guardian of Isis, as it is the one with the dystopian setting) is what I was looking for.

Thanks to Pixel and Trenin for pointing me in the right direction.

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