I read so many dystopian novels from the school library in the 90s ...

In this one a group of people survived some catastrophe (perhaps nuclear).

There was a young girl, maybe she was the narrator. I'm guessing she was around 10-12 years old. There was a sense of civilization, culture, habits etc. being forgotten. Of everything being very bleak.

By the end, their language was falling apart.

The very last lines of the book were written in a kind of "broken" language. Maybe these were notes written by the girl or some other survivor. I'm not sure if the words were just misspelled/with weird grammar, or if the sentences just made no sense.

I have been looking for this book for 20 years. Anyone?

ETA: No, sorry - 'my' book was more sad and quiet and didn't have that plotline with technology getting banned. But this one sounds cool, I think I'll check it out, so thanks!

[And Moopet: I can see that "Random Acts of Senseless Violence" is described as "darkly hilarious", so it's definitely not that one either. 'My' book left me in a bleak and weary mood].

  • Are there any books with a similar premise that you can confirm aren't the one you're looking for? Feb 11 at 21:55
  • 1
    It's not "Children of the dust", but that's the only one I found where the title and cover seemed promising.
    – Sara
    Feb 11 at 22:00
  • Brian Aldis's novel "Barefoot in the Head" describes a dystopian future, set in a Europe devastated by psychedelic chemicals. As the story continues the language grows increasingly weird until it falls apart entirely. The final pages are close to gibberish. But the protagonist, Colin Charteris, is not a girl.
    – user23087
    Feb 11 at 22:06
  • 1
    Thanks, but that's not it. This one was more straightforward in style, I think.
    – Sara
    Feb 11 at 22:10
  • If it had a cyberpunk feel, then this would match Jack Womack's "Random Acts of Senseless Violence" on all points apart from maybe being a bit later, 1993, but I imagine OP would have had stronger memories of the world. Does that ring any bells?
    – moopet
    Feb 12 at 9:11

2 Answers 2


It might be The Changes trilogy by Peter Dickinson. Or one of them.

The Weathermonger (1968),
Heartsease (1969),
The Devil's Children (1970)

Description of the TV Series based on the books.

The Changes posits a Britain where a sudden enveloping noise emanating from all machinery and technology causes the population to destroy them. The resulting upheaval displaces many people and reverts society to a pre-industrial age where there is a deep suspicion of anyone who may be harbouring machinery. Even the words for technology are taboo. The remnants of modern technology that escape destruction (such as electricity pylons) produce a physical and sometimes violent repulsion among those left in Britain.

The Changes are seen through the eyes of teenage schoolgirl Nicky Gore (Victoria Williams),

What matches:

  • Teenage female protagonist
  • Dystopian, post-apocalyptic future
  • societal change, civilization breaks down, normal behaviour abandoned. At one point the protagonist is tried for witchcraft.
  • certain words become taboo.

It sounds somewhat like What Niall Saw by Brian Cullen (1985). The narrator is a seven-year-old boy rather than a 10-12 girl. He and his parents and a sibling survive the bombs falling, but their attempts to flee and find safety are fruitless, and the last several pages are essentially babble as Niall gets sicker and sicker with radiation poisoning. Read this, On the Beach, and When the Wind Blows in the same two-week period as a teenager, surprised I recovered from the trauma.

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