Book Reviews

Review: “The Dead of Night,” John Marsden

September 17, 2010
Review: “The Dead of Night,” John MarsdenThe Dead of the Nightby John Marsden
Series: The Tomorrow Series #2
Published by Scholastic on 1994
Genres: Coming of Age, Survival, War
Pages: 272

Australia has been invaded. Nothing is as it was.

Six teenagers are living out their nightmare in the sanctuary of a hidden valley called Hell. Alone, they make their own rules, protect what is theirs, and struggle for courage and hope in a world changed forever. Seeking supplies, allies, and information, the friends make forays into enemy territory, drawing on nerve and resourcefulness they never even knew they had. And as the risks become greater, so too do the sacrifices they must make. The companion to the award-winning novel “Tomorrow, When the War Began“.

A great follow-up to Tomorrow, When the War Began. I plan on reading the whole series. I don’t know why I haven’t earlier!

I read the first novel in the series back in ninth grade for a school project. The pressure to read in school makes you hate the story, knowing you’re going to have to write a paper on it or remember every little ‘detail’ about the characters and their quotes. So, years later (about seven to be exact!) I picked up the novel again after hearing it was being made into a film.

I wasn’t sorry. Relieved of the pressures to finish by a certain time, I whizzed through the book and found myself relating more to Ellie and her friends than ever before. Being an Australian myself, I was able to step into their shoes and understand their slang words and jokes. The frightening image of an invasion of our country was chilling.

I went to a signing event for the series not long ago. There, I picked up one the new movie tie-in editions of the books. The second in the series, The Dead of Night, was the one I purchased. I now wish I had purchased the third, as I’m eager to see what happens next!

The story is engaging, suspenseful and dramatic. You feel as if you’re the extra member of the gang, fighting alongside Ellie, Homer and the rest. When they kill, you kill. When they see images of horror, you see the same thing. Their bravery leaks off the pages and leaves you feeling quite useless in the way of things. Could you kill someone in cold blood if the time came? These questions and more are what Ellie and her friends have to answer… have to face. And they don’t have much time.

The last few chapters of The Dead of Night had me turning pages like a madwoman! Will they manage to blow up the houses on Snob Hill? Will they get caught? Lee’s little trick with the toasters and timers is definitely a plan I would not be able to think up for myself!

The colonization of Wirrawee left me seething… I could not imagine strangers inhabiting my house while I sat imprisoned by their army (or worse yet, cleaning my house for their arrival!)

And Chris, oh, Chris. I was not expecting his death to be so… needless. The last thing you expect in a warzone is to find someone dead simply from driving under the influence. I really felt for Chris. The other’s had strong friendships with one another, while he was simply someone they ‘found along the way’. Nobody really gave him the time of day, and in the end, that was his downfall.

Character-wise, I find myself gravitating more towards Fi than the rest of them. Even though Ellie is the narrator and the ‘eyes’ we see through, she is a lot tougher than I am. Fi on the other hand is a little naive, a little sheltered, but she rises to the occasion when the time comes. She doesn’t have the know-how of the rest of the troop; she wasn’t raised on a farm and doesn’t have survival skills bred into her. That’s the magic of John Marsden’s series – he’s created so many intricate characters that you’ll be hard pressed not finding one that is like you.

Readers not native to Australia will have a little problem with understanding some of the Aussie slang and phrases, but it isn’t a big issue. If you enjoy the series, make sure you see the film, it’s excellent and pretty close to the book!

Recommended to: A must-read for Australians of all ages!

About John Marsden

John Marsden lives on an 850-acre property just outside Melbourne, Australia, where he runs writing camps and writing courses. He tours the world giving talks and holding workshops. He's now published thirty books, and his world-wide sales total 21/2 million.

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