Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsen {Jenna’s Review}

Posted 15 May, 2013 by Jenna / 8 Comments

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsen {Jenna’s Review}Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
Series: The Tomorrow Series #1
Genres: Action & Adventure, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 277
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.

Dystopian war in the Australian bush

My Thoughts on Tomorrow, When the War Began

Tomorrow, When the War Began starts out as a journal. The narrator/journal’s author is Ellie. She’s been elected by her group of friends to be the one who writes down what has happened to them so far so that, should anything happen to them, the world will know their story. And the story begins with a camping trip or, what the Aussies call “going bush.”

Ellie and her friend Corrie decide that they are going to organize a group hike with their friends through the bush and into a place dubbed Hell: “a cauldron of boulders and trees and blackberries and feral dogs and wombats and undergrowth.” It’s the Christmas holidays and they want to skip the Commemoration Day show (something, from what I can gather, is akin to a county fair here in the States) in favor of this outing. Ellie and Corrie enlist their friends Robyn, Fi, Kevin, Lee, and Homer. They pack up a Land Rover with supplies and set off.

Now, these kids have some amazing foreshadowing powers because, while they’re away, they talk about how the Commemoration Day show would be the perfect time for an invasion or a war to begin. Think about it, they postulate. Everyone’s left their farms and ranches and gone to the Show Grounds where they are all together. Which is exactly what happens. When they return home, they find Ellie’s dogs dead and the house abandoned. Same holds true for the others’ houses and pets. And then the adventure begins.

The story carries on as the group of friends organize and pull off reconnaissance missions, gather more supplies, fight off roving groups of invading soldiers, blow up bridges, and, of course, fall in love with one another. There’s a lot of geographical description that, personally, I found distracting; but, I never was good at that spacial thinking and forming a topographical map of the story in my brain as I read. And there’s a hell of a lot of luck that is on these kids’ side!

It’s an okay book; I didn’t dislike it, but I’m just not sure that I liked it enough to commit to the full series. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m curious enough to even pick up the second book.


Filed under: Dystopian, ESR: 6, Post-Apocalyptic, Review: Jenna, YA, ,


8 Responses to “Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsen {Jenna’s Review}”

  1. GAH! I HATE WHEN DOGS DIE!! Why not just leave them in the house? DON’T KILL THE DOGS!!

    Those are some very impressive foreshadowing skills. Because Australia’s so perfect to invade, what with all the deadly snakes, desert, long stretches of unpopulated roads… (sorry, my sarcasm button is set on high today).

  2. I’ve never heard of this book before Jenna! I’m not sure it’s for me even though I love dystopians, all the geographical descriptions would likely be really distracting for me as well. And the fact that Ellie’s dogs die kind of seals the deal. When people die in books I get upset, but when animals die? I’m devastated! Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Jenna

      I hadn’t, either! But a friend of mine suggested it for my book club. I mean, I liked it, but I just don’t think I enjoyed it enough to commit to seven books!

  3. Well, poo! I recently acquired this book because another blogger loves this series, and it sounds like something I would enjoy. I wish there would be more struggles for the characters…

    Isn’t it funny how some of us can deal with people dying in movies and books, but when animals die, we lose our shit…

    • Jenna

      Give it a try! I’d be curious to see what you think. :)

      Totally! I mean, sure, I think it’s sad when people die in books – especially when it’s a well-loved character (I still haven’t forgiven Stephanie Barron) – but when it’s an animal. Woooooo, boy, that’s a whole different ball of wax!

  4. This is a great book and Ellie is such a strong female lead . I absolutely fell in love with the book.
    Don’t let the comments about the dogs dying put you off. It does happen and it isn’t nice to read but it’s a very short section and there is so much more to this book that is worth reading. It is very believable, it is character driven and it’s the most popular teen book (and film) in Australia – ever!
    Whilst technically it is dystopian, it isn’t set in the future so it feels contemporary rather than sci-fi.
    I really do recommend this book for teenagers, especially if you liked the Hunger Games. The author should have stopped at three books though, the quality does tail off from the fourth book.
    I loved this first one though, the film too. I highly recommend them both!

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