Thursday, December 30, 2010

review: Tomorrow when the war began

In just one week I've read two books about military invasions.

Not exactly a restful topic.

The other (How I live Now) took place in Britain, this one is based in Australia (raved about by Nomes of Inkcrush, who is the Queen of Aussie YA Lit).

It is interesting that two similar premises could be realized so differently. The basic idea of both books is kids fending for themselves amidst a military invasion. (Side note: in both cases the author never clarifies who the invading army is, which I found cool, because it leaves off a TON of political baggage). But as I wrote above, the books are completely different.

Tiny synopsis: Ellie and her friends plan a bush trip (we'd call it camping) that falls over the national commemoration day. When they emerge from their trip a few days later they find that their rural town has been overtaken by an invading army. The friends get smart quickly and start doing what they need to survive. As time progresses they also begin to fight against the invaders, performing small (and large) acts of sabotage. Oh, and just because the world is turned upside down, it doesn't mean a group of teenagers aren't also going to experience their fair share of crushes, misinterpreted communications, love, and drama.

I loved it. I immediately listed ALL the books in the series on my reading list. The characters were complex, real, clever, and truly multi-dimensional. They also grew tangibly (in interesting ways) as the events unfolded, which makes a lot of sense logically. Also, compared to How I Live Now you get so much more information about the external events (but not in an overwhelming or boring way). It's almost more that the kids in this story are actively seeking to solve the mystery of what has happened to them, and you get to come along for the ride. I love mystery solving, so I was keen. It was a fast read and thrilling.

Oh, and if you haven't read two books about military invasions recently, please allow me to impart some wisdom to you. If an invading army lands in your backyard, here are a few things you NEED.

1. access to a verdant, diverse, and burgeoning vegetable garden
2. knowledge of plants, hunting, and trapping
3. a massive wild area in which you can hide away
4. dogs can be useful, or a liability, depending on breed (in general yappy dogs: bad, herders: good)
5. canned goods, camping supplies, chicken wire
6. also, a landcruiser is helpful

It makes me feel a little squirmy  about my "urban" house, minivan, lack of canned goods, and garden covered by snow. We wouldn't get far on our juice boxes and soy chicken nuggets, I'm afraid.


  1. I'm so glad you loved TWTWB, it's one of my fave aussie books of all time. I loved the series, but from memory I thought the last 2 books were kind of unnecessary, like it dragged out the story too far. But then again I read them about 10 years ago so I might think differently if I read them again. I always think I should re-read them, but there's always something new that's more appealing at the time!

  2. I'm also so glad you loved this! These books came out when I was Ellie's age, so it was like reading a series about our peers. My friends and I grew up with the TMTWB kids, and I grew up hiking around the very places the book is set. I've camped where they did! I'm also glad to hear it translated--it's a very Australian book, and I don't think John Marsden made an effort to write it for the international market, so I've wondered how much of the language and culture might cause stumbling blocks. Get onto the next ones, you won't regret it!

  3. I hear you mummazappa: I have books I would love to re-read, but there is so much on my TBR pile right now, there's just no way.

    Thx Amie, I can't believe you've been to "hell"- how amazing!!!! The way he describes it makes me want to visit Australia even more. The lingo is sometimes confusing, but with context you can get the idea.


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