Sunday, 30 November 2008

Tomorrow, When the War Began (the series)

I could already tell when I started this book that I liked it. And the series keeps up the pace that the first one set.

This is one of the series that I did not felt suffered from "cleaning up" syndrome - though it could be argued there is a little of feeling of being cheated by the ending. I didn't actually feel that.

One thing that was great about it was that it didn't lose momentum, and it didn't run out of ideas.

The premise is fairly original and cool - kids coming back to their hometown after a weekend away to find it invaded by some unidentified army, but there was a possibility of it fading - were the kids just going to spend the entire time running around scrabbling for survival and every so often blowing up an army truck with a home made bomb?

The series was cleverer than that and thought of several ideas for action and variations, as well as exploring relationships and the way different personalities would react to pressure.

Marsden wasn't in the least afraid to explore grit and violence instead of trying to make it cheesy like Rowling was more apt to do - but then he was exploring a war topic, not a magic story, and writing, at least to begin with, for a much older audience.

The different characters in the group represented a wide number of character traits, and I thought this was a great way of exploring character and story ideas, and allowing readers to have someone to empathise with. Probably people could find one or two people and a few of their reactions they strongly identified with in the book. I also felt it was great that Ellie, the lead, was portrayed as strong, opinionated, yet flawed - an excellent character to see things through, even though I didn't strongly identify with her.

Marsden did use some techniques to allow for the children to have some superior powers to what many children reading his books might have - for instance, they could drive, make bombs, and use guns proficiently. This is explained by them being "country kids" and doesn't feel too much like a cheat.

The fact that Ellie's friends are "not really dead" at the end does not feel too much like a cheat at the end (as I sneakingly suspected that they weren't) and in fact there seemed to be something too "easy" about finishing them all off just to end the story. What in fact seemed more realistic was the fact they survived but that the war tarnished Ellie's relationship with them.

At any rate, I will be reading the Ellie Chronicles later - or at least I will have a go.

This was an excellent ride, and well worth reading 7 books. Addictive!

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