As a kid, maybe around 1982, my parents read a book to me about a group of kids forming some kind of (cruel?) society. I cannot remember much of it; maybe my parents stopped reading because they felt the story to be inappropriate.
The story was about a group of kids, which met regularly, forming some kind of society. Maybe they even lived together; I'm not sure about that. They discovered some new form of energy/power at some place underground, not very easy to reach. In my memories it was some kind of glowing bubbles. With this form of energy, something desirable was possible. Quickly a hierarchy emerged amongst the kids; some got a lot of power due to this resource, and others were forced into a life as workers, mining more and more of this energy.
Clearly this book criticized demand for resources and inequity of modern societies. But this is something I am just concluding today. The atmosphere which made it memorable probably was some kind of immersive escapism. I remember admiring the kids in power while being scared at the same time. (However there is a lot of guessing within this section. I was 8 years old in 1982, totally impressed, because I had never heard such an immersive story.)
This book was read to me in German. However, there's a really high probability that it was a translation of an English book. At least, I'd suspect that a book good enough to stay in my mind for so long would be good enough to be translated in several languages.