Tomorrow when the War Began (Tomorrow series #1) by John Marsden
When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong--their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision--run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.
Ellie and her friends want to get away from the weekend. It's the weekend of the Show and to get away Ellie organises a group of her friends and her to head up the mountain and down to a place in the absolute middle of nowhere called Hell. One night they hear a series of jets fly overhead but pay no attention because they think they are just coming back from the celebrations at the showgrounds. When they return to their little country town they discover that it has been invaded and the town has been rounded up and is being kept at the showground. Ellie and her friends soon discovers that they have to make one of the hardest decisions anyone ever has to make; to run or fight.
I had never thought about reading Marssden's book before I had to teach it as part of my practical experience, because to me it had always been a school assigned book (and aren't the books we read in English always boring). I'm so glad I picked it up. Marsden has created a unique outlook on the world, especially in Australia. He has taken the big 'What if' and placed it into a small town, into an ordinary life. What if you returned home and found that someone had invaded and taken your parents, friends and community prisoner? This was all too believable (maybe because I'm from Australia and I also come from a country town) and that's what made this book a fantastic read.
The characters that Marsden creates are believable and realistic. They are normal teenagers who are thrust into this extrodinary and horrific situation. Ellie, as the main character, grows through her experiences and it's fantastic to see that all the actions and motivations that are being done by both the invading forces and the group of teens have dire consequences. Ellie had never had to think about fighting for survival and she tries to figure out the answer to one big question, 'is it okay to take someone else's life to remain living?'
Another good thing with this series (and possibly the biggest mystery) is the identity of the invaders are kept anonymous. In an interview Marsden even stated that he didn't want the novel to revolve around the invaders so he chose not to point the finger and no one culture is blamed.
The novel kept me reading from start to end (which wasn't an easy feat since I had to answer questions about each chapter so I could teach it to my year 10s). I would definately reccommed this book, but don't feel threatened or confused by the use of Australian slang and culture (hey, I even had to look up some meanings because it comes from dialogue we don't use anymore), because this book is a great read.
Cover: There are several covers available for the series (and now there's a movie there's even a movie cover), but most of them revolves around the ferris wheel and showground with the planes circling around. These are interesting because the fair is often a symbol of freedom and excitement, but the looming presence of the jets adds a more dangerous element which captures the attention.
Movie: I couldn't resist from commenting on the movie, mainly because I had to see it opening day and I've just gotten back from seeing it. This was probably the first adaptation that I've seen that has kept so close to the storyline. The characters were portrayed well by the young cast, and the emotions came across and kept the suspense (even though I knew what was going to happen). It was definitely a worthwhile adaptation as well as a fantastic Aussiie flick. Actually, the only difference I really noticed was that the invading forces could speak English when they didn't in the book (but my brother quickly pointed out that it would be impossible for them to speak their own language, unless they were speaking Klingon, because that would point the finger to one particular culture... even the soldiers looked multinational so they did a great job of not suggesting any one country as the invaders. It's definately worthy to see.
Plot: 5/5 stars
Ending: 5/5 stars
Cover: 5/5 stars
Overall: 5/5 stars
Recommend: Any good action/adventure novels
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