02 January 2009

Review: The Dead of the Night by John Marsden

The Dead of the Night is the second in Marsden's young adult "Tomorrow" series, which follows a group of modern-day teenagers as they try to survive on their own after Australia has undergone a military invasion. The kids' story is told through Ellie's eyes, who is keeping a journal of their activities.

The teens have set up camp in a remote valley and have become adept at coming out of the bush to raid the abandoned houses and farms for supplies and to gather information about the war and their families. They want to do more than just survive, however, and they work together to plan and try to execute guerrilla attacks on the enemy.

Ellie can barely remember what it was like to be a normal teenager, whose biggest concerns were doing her chores and hoping to get into college. What happens to children when they are forced to kill or be killed? When their dependency on each other is all they have? Each person in the group must face the same horrors, but each reacts to and is changed by events in unique ways.

One of the strong points of this series is that the kids start out as ordinary high-schoolers. As they confront the facts of their new world, they cry, they're frightened, they fall apart, and they make mistakes. They're scared of who they are becoming, and they want to be under the shelter of adults. They also discover their strengths, draw on their resourcefulness, and learn to cooperate. It's not surprising that their ideas of war and how to fight back are influenced by things they've seen in the movies or read in books.

The series is available on audio. Suzi Doughtery does an excellent job as narrator, convincingly portraying the personality of the teenage Ellie.

I read this book as part of two challenges: 9 Books for 2009 (category = Distance) and What's in a Name 2 (category = Time of Day). Click the links in the list below for more information about the challenges and to see what other participants are reading.

Published by Scholastic, 2006
ISBN-13: 0395837340
Challenges: 9 Books for 2009; What's in a Name 2
YTD: 1
Rating: B


Lynda 1/2/09, 3:35 PM  

This sounds an interesting series ;0)

BookChook 1/2/09, 9:17 PM  

Great review, Beth. I read all the first series (Tomorrow When the War Began) but now I must catch up with the Ellie Chronicles. I really like his writing style.

Anonymous,  1/2/09, 9:32 PM  

Alright! This looks like a super one that Nona would love. I'll add it to my list. :)

Isabel 1/3/09, 6:04 PM  

You're the first Distance participant. Australia is really far from your home.

It's an interesting read. I like the concept.

There was a movie done about 20 years ago, when Russians invaded the US Midwest and kids had to survive.

Great review!

Anonymous,  1/5/09, 8:12 AM  

Oh wow!!! I'm SO glad you've read this book!! This remains one of my favourite Australian series and I think John Marsden is a terrific YA writer. I remember being so intensely obsessed with this series. It was massive when the final book was published - much like an Aussie Harry Potter phenomenon.

Anonymous,  1/22/09, 1:09 PM  

My oldest son has read and loved this entire series.

I would like to get to it someday!

Unknown 5/7/09, 1:46 PM  

These books were all among my favourites from last year, an absolutely stunning series and I listened to a good part of it on audio as well as reading the books. Suzi Doughety really gets Ellie spot on in my book. The same can not be said of Mikhela Martin who takes over for the final two books of The Ellie Chronicles, unfortunately. :(

Beth F 5/7/09, 1:53 PM  

Bart the series is fantastic. It's hard to get across in a review without adding spoilers. I'll be prepared for the change in readers. I'm so sorry to learn that Doughtery doesn't read them through to the end.

Booklover Book Reviews 1/2/10, 9:40 PM  

Great review. I have included a direct link to your review in a post I've just completed, Aussie Author In Focus - John Marsden, a series of posts I'm doing in support of the Aussie Author Reading Challenge I'm hosting.


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