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Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

>> Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Genre: YA Fiction
Series: #1 in the Tomorrow series
Publication Date: 1993
Pages: 284
Support Your Local Library Challenge #42

A group of Australian high school students head out for a camping trip in the deep bush. When they return home several days later nothing seems right. Their families are not at home, their animals have been neglected and in some cases are dead. As the kids go to each of their homes their fear grows. It doesn’t take long for them to discover that their country has been invaded and a foreign army is in control. Their families have been imprisoned. Pretty soon they decide they have three options: go back to the bush and hide out and wait out the war, surrender and join their imprisoned families, or find a way to fight.

Yes this sounds an awful lot like the 1984 movie Red Dawn (which I’ve seen several times and enjoyed despite its occasional silliness). This book has many elements of that movie, but it’s good! This is the first of a seven book series and I fully plan to read more of them.

The story is told by Ellie - one of the girls who organized the camping trip. She says from the beginning that she’s writing it because the group decided they should write down what’s happened to them and selected Ellie to do so. Since its told in flashback and first person, you know from the beginning some of the characters who have survived up to this point. What is interesting is that since the entire story is told from the perspective of the kids, you never really find out what’s happening outside of what they can observe and learn. The invading country is never identified, the status of the invasion and war remains unknown beyond what the kids can discover on their own. I thought this added to the tension and let the reader share in the fear and speculation of Ellie and her friends.

Marsden did an excellent job of writing from the perspective of a teenage girl. Ellie is a tough kid who has grown up on a ranch and can take care of herself pretty well. She’s also a teenager struggling with her world being torn completely upside down and at the same time dealing with changing relationships among the group of friends. Yes teenage romantic feelings continue even amidst the struggle to survive, but at the same time Ellie’s observations about herself and her friends are well done. She speaks of the courage and how some of the group begins to demonstrate previously unknown strength of character. They’re not always courageous tough kids turned guerillas, however. They have their moments of fear and uncertainty as well. They’re teenagers for goodness sake.

I liked Ellie as a character and a narrator. Some of the other kids are more fleshed out as characters than others, but I would expect that as the series continues so will the character development.

I probably would not have even picked this book up if it wasn’t for a Twitter conversation among a group of book bloggers. I owe some thanks to both Bookfool and BethFishReads for convincing me to read this book.

Rating 4/5


Bookfool 9/09/2009 7:10 PM  

I didn't realize I'd influenced you on this one, although it's a series that I can't shut up about (so, it certainly makes sense). :) I'm so glad you enjoyed the first in the series. Are you hooked? If I could have, I do believe I'd have read all 7 books back-to-back and I *never* do that.

Framed 9/10/2009 5:40 PM  

Thanks for the recommendation. This book sounds really good.

SuziQoregon 9/11/2009 7:20 PM  

Bookfool: I hadn't heard of the series till the twitter conversation. Then between you and BethFishReads endorsing it, I couldn't resist. Yes, I'm hooked and just picked up the second book from the library tonight. ;-)

Framed: It's been around a while, but I hadn't heard of it till the past few weeks. I liked it a lot.

Bookfool 9/14/2009 9:39 AM  

She's hooked, she's hooked, her brain is cooked! Hahaha. I'm glad you picked up the second. It took me over a year to find the second book online. I had to order it from Australian Online Books. Whoa, that was expensive! It was worth it, though. I loved that series.

Anna 9/19/2009 9:45 PM  

Red Dawn is a pretty cool movie. I saw it for the first time recently. My hubby was watching it and couldn't believe I'd never seen it so he made me watch it. It's long, though!

This sounds like an interesting book. I bet my husband would really enjoy this series.

Diary of an Eccentric

SuziQoregon 9/23/2009 8:57 AM  

Bookfool: yes I'm hooked! started the second book in the series last night - luckily they're readily available from my library now.

Anna: If you liked the movie Red Dawn, then I highly recommend this series. Give this first one a try.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. I read and respond them here although not always right away. If you would prefer an email response let me know.

I do moderate comments on posts older than 14 days in order to control spam. I will approve your legitimate comments as soon as I can.

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