I’m putting two reviews in one here, because I think it’s important to acknowledge that starting to read a new series requires a bit of faith. The first one might be amazing but the second one might be hideous and that’s the sort of stuff you need to know before going off and either spending a load of cash on them at either the bookshop or ordering them in via the library. I’ve deliberately kept the second review as spoiler-free as I can.
Rest assured, these books are really, really good.
Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
GAH THIS BOOK.
I read this in a day, and by a day, I literally mean a day. It went everywhere with me because I could not put it down. And then, when I finished it, I immediately picked up the second. These books redefine hooked.
So, ‘Tomorrow, When the War Began’ has both a beautiful title and a beautiful premise. Several teenage friends decide for one last blow-out before the end of the school holidays. They decide to go trekking up into the bush, to a place known locally as “Hell”. It’s a perfect trip, full of all those memories that will last a lifetime.
That is until one night where a load of planes pass overhead.
Disturbed, the kids return back to their hometown and discover that it’s deserted. And then, they discover, that they’ve been invaded.
Australia is at war.
OH MY GOD. This book is brilliant. It’s basically geurilla warfare in the middle of the Australian bush and it’s all so ridiculously real. You can feel this happening as Ellie (the central narrator) recounts it to you. It’s like an Australian version of Vietnam with the teenagers acting as a rural Aussie bush version of the Vietcong. It’s them sneaking out from the shadows and fighting for their homes and their families. It’s them stepping up and making a difference.
This book is so superbly good. There’s very few war stories out there in YA literature that work as well and I think one of the reasons why Tomorrow, When The War Began does work is that it’s ferociously real. It fairly spits with Australian colour and feel, and it feels like it could happen which is one of the scariest parts.
Read. This. Book.
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The Dead of Night by John Marsden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The second in John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ series, this is a story of growth for our geurilla teens. Ellie, still the central narrator, details their story and how they handle their increasing outlaw status. There’s a point in this book where they run into another ‘operation’, similar to their own but run by militarised adults. However not everything is as it seems, and soon Ellie and co. are forced to decide their own fate again.
The shift in pace in The Dead Of Night is palpable; it’s a book about settling in and making decisions for the long-haul. It’s less breakneck than Tomorrow When The War Began and allows us to explore a lot more psychologically. Certain characters even have discussions about life, love and whether unprotected sex at this point in their lives really is a good idea.
There’s also more of a focus placed on actions having consequences. The first book was more about the reaction following the invasion and how the characters had to make a choice. This book allows us to dwell on the ramifications of making that choice.
I think I may be addicted to this epic epic series. The central premise is simply so good and I love how coloured it is by the location. You can feel the bush closing in, the tension of stepping out into a darkness blacker than you’ve ever seen before, and you can almost see the land starting to reclaim its own.
I devoured this book and really want to know how it all ends. Like now.
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