Monday, 7 September 2009

Review - Tomorrow, When the War Began / John Marsden

Summary - Ellie and her friends go camping, they have no idea they're leaving their old lives behind forever. Despite a less-than-tragic food shortage and a secret crush or two, everything goes as planned. But a week later, they return home to find their houses empty and their pets starving. Something has gone wrong--horribly wrong. Before long, they realize the country has been invaded, and the entire town has been captured--including their families and all their friends. Ellie and the other survivors face an impossible decision: They can flee for the mountains or surrender. Or they can fight.

Review - Along with Melina Marchetta's Looking for Alibrandi this novel was influential in my love of Australian YA. Marsden manages to weave an incredibly intriguing tale of a group of teens staking claim to their town against a faceless, nameless enemy. Fate meant they weren't captured like their families, so they choose to fight...hard.

The protagonist, Ellie writes the details of Australia’s invasion after the events have occurred and there is considerable foreshadowing of the events as they are detailed chronologically. Seven teenagers, just about to start their final year of high school, decide to go camping instead of suffering through the local show (a mix between a rodeo and a fair). This decision saves then from being captured by an unnamed enemy that house the town’s residents in the showgrounds.

On a fact finding mission, they discover that they want to fight guerrilla style to oppose this invasion. They show tremendous inventiveness and resourcefulness in all that they accomplish both on the attack and in creating a home base. It’s thrilling stuff.

Marsden has built the tension and danger of the situation with expertise. The characters are mostly well drawn, though the sheer number of them mean that it's not as detailed as one might like. Ellie, Homer and Lee are amongst those that are the most well rounded, their growth naturally occurring as they make many tough decisions and experience certain events. The language is deceivingly simple, assisting in the concept that these are everyday kids pulling off extraordinary acts.

The story is quite gritty as the many events that take place throughout the invasion and subsequent ransacking bring forth many realistic incidents. They have to fight with any means necessary and it isn't always pretty. School kids forced into thinking and acting like soldiers, Marsden depicts this startling transition beautifully. What would you do to survive? How would you deal with the repercussions of your actions?

Tomorrow, When the War Began is the first title in the Tomorrow Series. It leads the reader on a ride of thrills, chills and spills that will draw you in and possibly spit you out. A truly great Australian read (and the term 3 text in my English class).

Published: 1995
Format: Paperback, 304 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks
Origin: Australia

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prophecygirl said...

You know, I really should get around to reading this. It sounds amazing! Your class is lucky to have such a good teacher choosing their reading material!

Natalie Hatch said...

The whole series is great. John is a masterful storyteller, his latest Hamlet is different but I enjoyed seeing Shakespear taken to a modern setting.

Michelle said...

I just finished this book up a week or so ago and I adored it. Another blogger and I were just saying today that it reminds us very much of a movie called Red Dawn (which I loved as a teen and still watch pretty much every time it airs now). Seriously, Marsden had me at the back jacket flap description I didn't even need to read a chapter to know that I'd love it. Dystopian is a favorite of mine so this series is certainly going to be a savory treat. I've got the next two in the series on my shelf and plan to weave them in as I read other books I'm reviewing.

Adele said...

Jenny - You are too kind but I know I rock :P

Natalie - it was as seminal novel for me in my teens. Really powerful, simple language while empowering teens. Brilliant.

Michelle - I haven't seen Red Dawn but did you know that they are remaking it? Check out as they have the casting and everything. Looks like it's going to be awesome.

TWWB is an amazing book and I wish I had time to re-read the following titles but alas I do not. The casting for the movie has gotten underway too - Ellie's been cast and she's not what I expected AT ALL.

Thanks for taking the time to comment

The Book Owl said...

This sound so good! Nice review.

Jo @ Booklover Book Reviews said...

Great review. I have included a link to this review in my Aussie Author In Focus - John Marsden post at .