Now a duo from John Marsden. Books two and three in the Tomorrow, When the War Began series.
The Dead of Night and A Killing Frost
The basic premise: a group of Australian teens go camping. While they are away, their country is invaded by an army. The kids are at first shocked but eventually begin carrying out guerrilla warfare against the invaders. Don't forget, they're also still teenagers. They continue to deal with some of the stress, emotion, and drama of teenage life. Our narrator is Ellie, who not only relates what they're doing, but also catalogs the way their new life is changing them. She questions whether they can ever be innocent, child-like, again -- or if this is all in the past.
I am so loving this series, and I get why it is popular. Marsden is great at direct storytelling, lots of action, riveting experience, but also really exploring how the world has changed for Ellie and her friends. He is deft at portraying the subtle ways they are changing-- in some ways maturing, and in other ways hardening.
In both these books the kids finally run into another group. Once it happened I realized I'd been gunning for them to find someone else-- to find some adults, to have people to commiserate with, to find some solidarity. It's an experience I was longing for, for them, but what Marsden does with it is just incredible. He turns this longing on its head in a really incredible way. The portrayal of this other group Harvey's Heroes, particularly their leader, focuses on core issues of good and evil. Whether this is black and white, as they've all been taught, or whether in reality it's much more subtle.
By finally taking them out of their group you see just how fortunate they have been, how special their little group is.
Marsden keeps the action coming in these books, but he also explores deeper questions, about freedom, control, power, and community.
I highly recommend these books. This is a series of seven, and I'm looking forward to reading them all. They are quick and exciting reads. Check them out.
What about you? Have you read them? What did you think?