I remember reading a story (I think it was a single book, though it may have been a series) when I was younger that took place after a nuclear holocaust (it probably wasn't described as such, but that's the distinct impression I get looking back on it). Humanity had retreated into a walled "safe zone" several generations ago to protect themselves, and everybody knew that it was still deadly outside at the time the book was set. Early in the book, our protagonist met a girl named either Aubrey or Audrey, who turned out to have bionic eyes. At some point, he found an arcade game simulating a fighter jet, which he instinctively knew how to fly. It turns out that this was because

of a mystical connection to his hitherto-unknown twin brother, who had received extensive training (in preparation for war?).

It also turns out that the game was actually a recruitment tool (à la The Last Starfighter). The last detail I remember was when he and Au(b/d)rey went outside the safe zone (I think in a real plane?) and found

that it was perfectly hospitable outside; the entire war was a ruse perpetrated by the extraordinarily rich to force everyone else into hiding, so they could all have huge estates without running out of land.

I know these are all fairly obscure details, but I'm hoping that that's offset by their specificity, and that they're enough for someone who has read the story to recognize it.

  • Could you possibly guess a publishing date or a publisher or even the year you read it and how hold you think the book was? Also you don't have to worry about spoilers on meta :) – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 19:39
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    I believe I read it around 2003-04, but it could have been published any time before then. Probably not too far before that, as I don't remember the physical book being terribly old or in poor condition (it would have been a library book), but it also could have been a reprint. Sorry it's not a lot to go on... (but thanks for the interest!) – Anonymoose Sep 29 '17 at 19:46
  • And yeah, I figured the spoilers weren't strictly necessary, but I'm of the opinion that it's better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to spoilers. Feel free to edit them out if you think they shouldn't be there. – Anonymoose Sep 29 '17 at 20:00
  • See OP confirmation comment for answer below. – Otis Sep 29 '17 at 21:26

This might be 2009 The Roar by Emma Clayton, as per Sci-fi book about a male entering a competition that he wins and gets recruited by millitary

To steal my earlier answer:

Book cover - The Roar

In the future, a plague spreads through all the world's animals. To survive, the humans create a northern wall through Canada, England, etc. Every living thing south of the wall is destroyed while all the people in the world move north of the wall into multi-leveled cities with no plants or animals. Their food is produced from chemicals and mold.

Because of the lack of space, it's 30 years before anyone is allowed to have children. 2 of these children are fraternal twins Ellie and Mika. When Ellie disappears, Mika's parents believe that she's dead. But the strong telepathic bond Mika shares with his twin leads him to believe that she's alive, and he'll do anything to find her again. This leads him to follow along with what the government demands of him even when he senses there's some secret the government is trying to hide from everyone. This includes joining his classmates in learning war games on simulators and competing in competitions that can make his family very rich.

The sequel, The Whisper, mentions the ending plot twist you mention:

After discovering that the world was not covered by catastrophic plague or poisonous yellow dust, telepathic twins Mika and Ellie realized that the government lied to the population. The governing elite wanted the people to believe this so that the rich could live in luxury on the southern side of the Wall while the most of the rest of the people starved in cramped conditions in the north.

Audrey is the name of the girl you are remembering as per this character list:

Audrey is Mika's friend. She is a mutant she was born without eyes and got borg eyes so she could see. She is the partner of Mika in pod fighter, she is the gunner.

What doesn't match:

  • The threat isn't nuclear but biological
  • It's a twin sister, not a twin brother
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    That name didn't ring a bell, but your descriptions do match almost exactly. I'll give other people some time to answer, but it's looking like you're right, and the memories just didn't come flooding back like I expected them to :). – Anonymoose Sep 29 '17 at 20:33
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    Also, I'd like to add that I am continually amazed by how quickly and accurately everyone here can identify these sorts of obscure stories. Thanks, and kudos! – Anonymoose Sep 29 '17 at 20:37
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    Eh, you still got me an answer in less than half an hour (after about 2 years of trying to find it on my own); plus, the answer you copied it from was even faster! – Anonymoose Sep 29 '17 at 20:56
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    @Anonymoose ^_^ I may have some strong Google Fu skills too. – FuzzyBoots Sep 29 '17 at 20:58
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    @FuzzyBoots strong Google Fu is an understatement. Google should hire you to test new search algorithms to see if they can speed you up any more – Edlothiad Sep 29 '17 at 21:49

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