Burning for Revenge is the fifth in John Marsden's Tomorrow series. (I reviewed the second, third, and fourth books here.) Although my review does not contain spoilers for this novel, it does assume you've read the others in the series. For just my opinion, skip to below the asterisks.
Ellie, Homer, Kevin, Lee, and Fi are back in Hell. They are once again on their own, despite the fact that they have a radio for contacting Colonel Finley. Lee especially is feeling restless and is determined to reengage in guerrilla warfare. The group knows they have to stick together, so they all make the trek out of camp.
We are quickly thrown into can't-stop-reading, what-will-happen-next action as Ellie almost gets captured, the group unexpectedly ends up behind enemy lines, and they execute a plan of attack. The novel then takes a darker and more disturbing turn when the teens travel to Ellie's grandmother's house in the city of Stratton. There is no sugar-coating the effects of war on civilians.
The kids are not always brave, smart, and self-assured. These are real teens coping with stark realities, and they are sometimes scared and powerless to make decisions. This novel examines depression, betrayal, friendships, the need to make a home, and the importance of being resourceful. When Ellie and her friends meet some other children, they begin to see a broader picture: Not all war horrors involve death and killing.
As Fi says:
Oh . . . I know this stuff was happening in other countries when we were growing up: East Timor, Irian Jaya, Tibet. And I cared about it. I really did. But it's so different when it's right in front of you; when you see it. Or when it's your family and friends who get hurt and killed. Those kids, Homer's right, we should do something about them. Like he said, they could be our brothers and sisters. (p. 220)The series is available on audio read by Suzi Doughtery, who embodies the teenage Ellie perfectly.
John Marsden is a master at creating believable characters and a world so authentic we know we don't want to see it firsthand. Marsden has a website and blog.
Burning for Revenge at Amazon
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Published by Scholastic, 2006 [originally published 1997]
Challenges: YA Dystopian, 100+, 999
Source: Borrowed (see review policy)