Series: #1 in the Tomorrow series
Publication Date: 1993
Challenges: 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.