Author: John Marsden
Release date: Reprinted 2006, first published in Australia 1993, this UK ed 1995
Genre: Action / Dystopia?
Target audience: 12+
Summary from Amazon:
When 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.
Tomorrow When the War Began, Book 1 Tomorrow Series
Tomorrow When the War Began is a compelling story about survival, friendship and choices. It is a novel full of action but it will take you to the heart of the question of what it means to be human.
Ellie is the narrator of the story. At the beginning of the novel Ellie and her best friend Corrie decide on a whim that they should go camping in the bush. It is as if they knew their childhood was about to be left behind and they needed one last hurrah of youthful indulgence. So Ellie and her friends go off on their adventure into Hell. Seven of them altogether and each character brings something meaningful to the story. Hell is not the realm of Satan but a part of the outback that is inaccessible to humans and has always held a mystery for Ellie. She is determined to descend Satan’s steps (huge steep boulders and rugged terrain) and reach the secret place that she has imagined lies beyond.
The camping is rather uneventful. Seven teens all feeling rather lazy after their physically challenging climb down can’t be bothered to stretch themselves any further so pretty much lay around all day. The five days pass and they all climb out of Hell and return home to find that everything has changed.
Ellie’s narrative had me hooked from the first page. She is painfully honest about her feelings and her reactions to the terror that she experiences. She documents the reactions of the others and you get to know each character. Homer is resourceful and becomes the leader. Robyn is controlled, brave and determined. Fi is shy and yet utterly loyal to her friends. Lee is a thinker. Kevin is a hothead. Corrie is a comforter.
This novel explores many of the moral issues surrounding war and from both the perspective of the invaders and the natives. Ellie conveys the battle of her conscience through her account of what happens and it really does give the reader food for thought. She talks about evil as a human construct which is fascinating.
Aside from the big questions that get you thinking, there is a gritty and page-turning plot. The fear that the teens face as they take risks to discover the fate of their families and collect the materials that are vital to their survival takes hold of you. I was with them every step of the way.
I have ordered the next book in the series because I really want to know what happens next. It was so refreshing to read a story set in the real world with a scenario that had the feeling of “this might just happen”.
A special thank you to Lauren @ I Was A Teenage Book Geek for lending me her copy of the book. She wrote the most awesome review which is why I wanted to read Tomorrow When the War Began. You should really check it out!