Cover image for tomorrow when the war began

(Credit: John Marsden and PanMacMillan Australia)

While we’re on a nostalgia trip, this well-loved series by John Marsden was one I missed when everyone else was reading it at school. Sometime after I bought my Kindle (I know this isn’t being very supportive to the Australian publishing industry, but it’s the only device with text to voice) I checked to see if Marsden’s iconic books were available in ebook format. They weren’t. I swore at the Australian industry — thanks a lot Tim Winton — and decided it would have to wait for another time.

That time is now. A random check this week showed me that it was available. Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! So in typical fashion. I chewed through the book in a space of days.

It has not aged; I enjoyed it immensely. In a nutshell, it’s a story of a group of teenagers who go bush and while they’re gone, Australia is invaded by another nation in the region. They are on their own and begin a fledgling resistance. I love the way that Marsden takes his time at the start of the book, letting us get a feel for how normal life is for the characters. It is so much more poignant when their life is taken away, because we know what they are losing. He also doesn’t stretch the realm of believability too far. These aren’t soldiers, they’re children. And, as such, they don’t go marching around like Rambo. Of the three big operations contained in the book, the children are aided in large parts by luck and they feel the fear that normal people would feel.

I would happily have read the next book in the series as soon as I finished this one. However, I’m going to wait. For such short books they cost a bit more than I’ve been spending lately on ebooks. And given how fast I read books and how many there are in the series, I’ll have to pace myself.

But well done John and Pan McMillan. I’m glad they’re available in my format. As for the movie: I’ve heard it’s awful, but I think I’ll give it a whirl soon. Maybe in the Christmas break.

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