YA Review: Tomorrow When the War Began (Tomorrow #1)

Title: Tomorrow When the War Began (Tomorrow #1)
Author: John Marsden
Edition: Paperback
Rating: 5/5

I loved this book. I’ve seen the film, and I know how close the themes are to my own writing, so I was interested to read it and see how it compared to the big screen version.

And it’s better. Of course it’s better. There’s a strong female Point of View character who narrates the story (first person, mostly past tense), adding a personal element to the events. There’s much more detail about the setting and the plot, and the reader has time to get to know the characters, and to care about what happens to them. The plot was simplified for the film, so there’s a lot more action in the book, a lot more detail, and lot more danger for the characters.

The setup is simple. Seven Australian seventeen-year-olds head into the mountains for a wild camping trip at the end of the summer holidays. Their destination is a remote valley, hidden from the outside world. The group is a mix of farm kids and small-town residents who know each other from school, and they have plenty of experience of camping and surviving in the wild. On the night of the Commemoration Day fair, the narrator wakes up to see waves of fighter aircraft flying overhead. In the morning, the friends dismiss her concerns, claiming that they must have been taking part in the Commemoration Day festivities. When they return to town, the teenagers find empty houses, dead livestock, and the power and phone lines cut off.

The book follows the group as they make their way through their town, avoiding enemy soldiers, and confirming that the country has been invaded. Their families are being held at the Showground, and on their return to safety in the mountains, the teenagers have to decide what they are willing to do to fight back.

It’s a clever story – simple, but effective. The friends have to grow up fast, and learn to keep each other safe. They have to decide what they are willing to risk, and what they are willing to sacrifice, to make a difference. They learn the hard way the limits of their capabilities, and they learn to trust and support each other. The book works as a standalone story, but it is also the setup for a seven-book series. I’ve picked up the next two books from the library, and I’m interested to see how the story develops.

Very highly recommended.

Have you read the Tomorrow series? What did you think of the setup? Click through to the full blog to access the comments section, and share your thoughts! No spoilers, though – you can post those on GoodReads!

Review cross-posted to GoodReads.

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