Sci-fi/Fantasy Story identification:

This book starts out with a young boy ~10-15 years old and the world is explained that there are these warring factions in this general location of the world. Each faction/tribe contains only children of appx. that age range. There is one older adult who either takes care of them or maybe travels around between the tribes to essentially take care of them. In the land where they live, there are certain "forbidden zones" in which the children are told (by the adult) that they shall not go to, punishment of which is typically death. The main character chooses to ignore this advice and explores it anyways.

By the end of the book you find out that the world as we know it had faced some kind of crisis and thus created a habitat in which children were raised without modern day technology and could develop on their own in a nomadic/tribal lifestyle. A group of scientists live on a submarine ~ 100 miles off the coast where the story is taking place and monitor everything that is happening(which is basically, a huge experiment).

Publication time frame = Pre 2000

2 Answers 2


Reminds me of Nik Perumov's series "Technomagic", there was tribes or rather settlements of children up to 18 years old. They live a simple life based on ancient Slavic culture and used magic. There was some traveling elder too. By the end of book one, the main character finds out that the whole planet filled with machinery. These machines allow magic to exist in this world. And this is all just an experiment to create people that would be able to resolve a crisis on Earth. The problem is, it was published in Russian and I don't know if it was translated into other languages.


Battle Royale (1999) by Koushun Takami sounds like a match.

Battle Royale takes place in an alternate timeline; according to the book's prologue, Japan is a police state, known as the Republic of Greater East Asia (大東亜共和国 Dai Tōa Kyōwakoku). From time to time, fifty randomly selected classes of secondary school students are forced to take arms against one another until only one student in each class remains. The program was created, supposedly, as a form of military research, though the outcome of each battle is publicized on local television. A character discovers that the program is not an experiment at all, but a means of terrorizing the population. In theory, after seeing such atrocities, the people will become paranoid and divided, preventing another rebellion.

Under the guise of a "study trip", a group of students from Shiroiwa Junior High School (城岩中学校 Shiroiwa Chūgakkō), a junior high school operated by the fictional town of Shiroiwa (in Kagawa Prefecture), are corralled onto a bus and gassed, only to awaken in a school on an isolated, vacated island, wearing metal collars around their necks. After being briefed about the program, the students are issued survival packs (along with a random weapon or a tool) and sent out onto the island one by one. While most of the students receive guns and knives, some students acquire relatively useless items like boomerangs, some common dartboard darts, or a fork. In some cases, instead of a weapon, the student receives a tool; Hiroki Sugimura finds a radar device that tracks nearby students, and Toshinori Oda receives a bulletproof vest.

To make sure the students obey the rules and kill each other, the metal collars around their necks track their positions, and will explode if they linger in a "Forbidden Zone" or attempt to remove the collars. The Forbidden Zones are randomly chosen areas of the map that increase in number as time goes on, re-sculpting and shrinking the battlefield and forcing the students to move around. The collars secretly transmit sound back to the organizers of the game, allowing them to hear the students' conversations, root out escape plans, and log their activities. The students are also given a time limit. If no one is killed in 3 days, all of the collars will be detonated simultaneously, and there will be no winner. It is mentioned that only 0.5% of Programs end in this fashion.

In the end, only four students remain: Shuya Nanahara, Noriko Nakagawa, Shogo Kawada, and antagonist Kazuo Kiriyama. There is a car chase and shootout between the three main characters and Kazuo is killed. Shogo fakes Shuya and Noriko's deaths and boards a ship with the soldiers and Sakamochi. When Sakamochi reveals that Shuya and Noriko are alive and attempts to execute Shogo, Shogo kills him. Shuya and Noriko board the ship and kill the soldiers on board and meet up with Shogo, who succumbs to his own wounds and dies. Heeding Shogo's advice to "show no mercy," Shuya and Noriko escape to the mainland, where they become fugitives.

Very Hunger Games-eque, has a lot of adaptations- Manga and Movies.

  • It's a good book, but I don't think it's a good match. There are no roving tribes of children. There is no loss of history. There is no token adult to guide them. There are no scientists in submarines. Rather Battle Royale is about the kids living in a relatively normal world where they've been picked for this competition/demonstration.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Nov 19, 2014 at 18:32

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