Fantastic, I just wish I'd read it a "few" years ago

Tomorrow, When the War Began - John Marsden

Opening Line: “It’s only half an hour since someone-Robyn I think- said we should write everything down, and it’s only twenty-nine minutes since I was chosen, and for those twenty-nine minutes I’ve had everyone crowded around me gazing at the blank pages and yelling ideas and advice.”

This was very good and had I read it when I was a teenager I know I would have loved it. Back in the day this would have been comparable toThe Outsiders or the movie Red Dawn. I've actually heard this compared to Red Dawn quite a bit but other than a couple of major plot points it’s a very different story.

I loved that this takes place in rural Australia (including all the Aussie slang) and the Australian bush almost becomes a character of its own here. I loved the magic of the teens ascending “Satan’s steps” and finding “Hell” Their own private world in all its secluded beauty, far away from civilization, parents and rules. The excitement of their camping trip and the discovery of this hidden place along with the mystery of the hermit were my favourite parts. These are the things I would have loved as a teen reader- well that and all the sneaking around evading the bad guys, driving heavy equipment and blowing shit up -the action scenes are really quite awesome. There’s a bit of awkward romance here but for the most part this is just one great action adventure, I just wish I’d read it 20 (yeah, okay 25) years ago.

When The War Began is the first book from the “Tomorrow” series and the author obviously knew from the onset that this was going to be a series because the ending is left wide open without any real conclusion, in fact the reader is left hanging. I just mention this because you might want to have book 2 ( The Dead Of Night) handy when you start.

This is written from Ellie’s POV and in the first chapter she explains why she and her friends felt it important to start writing everything down. For them it means that one day they might be remembered because their world has already changed forever. Then she takes us back to the beginning of their story.

It’s the Christmas holidays in an undisclosed rural area of Australia. Ellie and her six friends have decided to go camping for a week instead of attending the annual fair at the showgrounds in Wirrawee. Most of the group was raised on farms, which is important here because they are a tougher breed; able to use a rifle, drive trucks and motorcycles, move stock, deal with a snake bite etc. Anyways, after a lazy week in the bush our group return to Ellie’s family property, which is the closest and soon realize that something is terribly wrong. The first things they notice are the dead animals and that the power is out, the radio is only picking up static. Where are her parents?

Heading to the other teens homes they find more of the same, everyone is just gone. Could it have anything to do with the V-shaped lines of jets that flew overhead for what seemed like hours the other night? Gradually they come to learn that their country has been invaded and soldiers are holding everyone from the district POW style at the fairgrounds in town. Our group then faces a startling decision, they can flee to their oasis in the mountains or they can fight back.

The author cleverly never gives a nationality to the enemy. They are just nondescript soldiers, wearing unremarkable uniforms, speaking a foreign language. This I liked very much. Cheers.