23 February 2010

Review: The Night Is for Hunting by John Marsden

The Night Is for Hunting is the sixth book in John Marsden's Tomorrow Series. (I reviewed the second, third, fourth, and fifth 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.

The novel starts right where the last one ended, with Ellie, Homer, Kevin, Lee, and Fi in Stratton, hiding out in what used to be Ellie's grandmother's house. Life in the city is beginning to get rough--food is getting hard to find and the invaders are sending around patrols to round up any remaining free Australians.

One night when Ellie is wandering the city, she comes across the gang of little kids who had mugged her when she first arrived in Stratton. But instead of a feisty group of survivors, Ellie finds four hungry, scared, and untrusting children, ranging in age from about five to eight.

When enemy forces become intent on capturing the children, the teens rescue the kids and make a daring escape back to Hell, their sanctuary. The bush camp has always been a safe haven for Ellie and her friends, but taking care of the "ferals" (the little ones) proves challenging, and it seems that enemy patrols may be drawing near.

To make matters worse, a raid on a nearby station to obtain food goes horribly wrong, and Ellie, Fi, and Homer are held prisoner by enemy immigrants. Escape without injury, violence, and death seems remote, and the three are forced into a face-to-face battle for their lives, with no one to count on for possible backup.

* * * * * * *
Marsden's talent at creating suspenseful, action-packed scenes and utterly believable teenagers does not falter in this novel. Each book in the Tomorrow series is as good as or better than the one before it.

The Night Is for Hunting introduces two major changes in Ellie's life: the added burden of being responsible for four young children and the deteriorating safety of their bush camp. Desperate circumstances and the driving need to try to inject some normalcy into the children's lives push the teens to take risks that have serious consequences.

And throughout it all, Ellie writes in her journal and reflects on her life. When one of the little girls can't remember much of her life before the war, Ellie thinks:
It scared me to realise how shadowy our memories can be. . . . I wondered if the opposite to identity was war. By separating us from our pasts, by tearing out all the previous pages of our lives, war had left us with nothing. I felt my life began last January and what went before was a vague dream, growing vaguer every day. And if it was like that for me, how much worse was it for Natalie? She had barely begun her life, barely had begun to grow into a human being, and already her world was being dismantled around her. (p. 205)
As in the other books in the series, The Night Is for Hunting does not shrink from the sights and smells and unthinkable choices that the invasion has brought to the survivors. War for Marsden is not a game.

The unabridged audio edition of The Night Is for Hunting was read by Suzi Dougherty, who could not be better as Ellie. Dougherty brings the excitement, the pain, and the fear to life without distracting the listener from the heart of the story.

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2001 [originally published 1998]
ISBN-13: 9780618070268
Audio by Bolinda Publishing, 2001
Challenges: Young Adult, Audiobook, Buy and Read, 2010, 100+
YTD: 16
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Rating: B+


Juile 3/14/10, 9:12 AM  

What a great quote to pick from the book. Definitely makes you think! I need to check these out. Every time you review this series, I make a mental note!

Bermudaonion 3/14/10, 9:13 AM  

Carl enjoyed the first book in this series and wants to continue with it - maybe he'll get more for Father's Day.

Jan 3/14/10, 9:13 AM  

This really sounds like an awesome series. I really liked the quote you provided. I have not heard of the books and will look for them. As always a super review.

Bart's Bookshelf 3/14/10, 9:14 AM  

I'm sure you know by now that I love this series, and you're absolutely right, Suzi Dougherty is perfect as Ellie. (far better than Mikaela Martin, who takes over for the last two books in The Elle Chronicles (the series that follows this one).

Marg 3/14/10, 9:14 AM  

I really should read John Marsden.

S. Krishna 3/14/10, 9:15 AM  

I think I say this every time you post a review from this series, but I need to pick up these books!

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