I am trying to remember a book I read years ago probably in the early 2000's, but I don't know how old the book is. But I do remember the basic plot.

The world, or at least the country it is set in, is split in half. One half is a dystopian poorer world where crime rates are high and blood sports are the most popular form of entertainment. Libraries are all but abandoned. The protagonist lives in this half; he likes to read and longs to escape to the other half of the world/city.

The world is split by a giant wall which I believe he tunnels under to get to the better half of the world, which is more like the countryside, rather than the city he has come from. Everyone is well educated and seems perfect. The protagonist gets to live with a wealthy family; the father takes him under his wing and teaches him about how to make bonsai trees. From this he finds out this father figure was once a rebel trying to let city people into their half, but bad behavior results in a partial lobotomy to make them calm.

When the protagonist finds this out he tries to escape back to the city half of the world.

For the life of me I cannot remember the books name. I've tried a Google search and get results like Nineteen Eighty-Four, which I expect the book I'm looking for took influence from.

  • Do you know what type of book this was? Short story, novel etc?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 11, 2018 at 11:56
  • Slightly different but The House of Power, the first book in the Atherton Series matches some of this.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 11, 2018 at 11:59
  • I don't think it was a short story. I was a teenager when i read it so can't fully remember the size of the book.
    – Phil3992
    Jul 11, 2018 at 12:11
  • Again similar but slightly different is We which predates 1984.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 11, 2018 at 12:11
  • You have to be kidding me — I was planning on writing a story exactly like this last year! Well, as they say, great minds think alike.
    – Mr Pie
    Jul 11, 2018 at 12:22

1 Answer 1


The Guardians by John Christopher

Set in the year 2052, the novel depicts a future, authoritarian England divided into two distinct societies: the modern, overpopulated "Conurbs" and the aristocratic, rarefied "County"; the former consists of crowded city districts and all-pervasive technology while the latter is made up of manors and rolling countrysides typical of 19th-century England. The novel follows a young Conurban named Rob as he comes to experience life in both worlds, uncovering truths and choosing sides in the process.

The Wikipedia page gives more detail such as the bonsai trees.

Changing his surname from Randall to Perrott, Rob does his best to adapt to life in the Gifford house, getting to know Mr Gifford (a quiet, unassuming man whose greatest interest seems to lie in bonsai) and the servants, as well as Cecily, Mike's younger sister.

  • You got it! Well done. I've been searching for ages. You found it in minutes
    – Phil3992
    Jul 11, 2018 at 12:22
  • 1
    @Phil3992 Took me a few guesses though! I eventually found it on this linked question and checked the Goodreads and Wikipedia pages for matches. Stood out to me immediately cos of the bonsai trees.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jul 11, 2018 at 12:23

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