19 October 2012

Audiobook Friday #3 - Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow #1) by John Marsden

Originally published: 1993

Pages: 277 (paperback)

Audio published by: Bolinda Publishing, 16 March 2006

Narrated by: Suzi Dougherty


Length: 7 hours & 20 minutes

Genre/s: YA, post-apocalyptic/dystopia

Source: own library

Check it out (in print): Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ The Book Depository

Check it out (Audio): Audible ~ The Book Depository

Synopsis:

When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong--their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision--run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.

My Thoughts

Personally, one of the scariest reading experiences is going back as an adult to read a book I loved as a teenager. What if my 'growing up' has changed my opinion of the book - will I ruin a good memory, or reinforce just why I loved that book so much that the paperback I had eventually fell apart from so many re-reads?

These were exactly the worries I had when I started listening to the audio of Tomorrow, When the War Began. I read the first book a few years after it was first published, when I was 8 or so (ok ok! So when I was about 14.....whatever) and I read all the available books one after the other. Each time a new one was released, I re-read the whole series again and then the new one - so I've read Tomorrow at least 5 or 6 times over the years. I've also own the movie adaptation on DVD, and although it does cut out some parts of the story, it's actually very well done.

Now I'm done with reminiscing, down to the serious business of reviewing a beloved teen favourite. The setting of Tomorrow, When the War Began is infinitely familiar to me - it literally smacks of Australia in a way that few other books I've read does. It evokes feelings of being a teenager, trying to be independent, first loves, the whole nine yards. It has always amazed me, and has done so again, how John Marsden can write books that resonate with both the teenage and adult audiences.

The plot is pretty straightforward - a bunch of teenagers go camping in an isolated part of the outback/forest and emerge to find that their country has been invaded, their parents and friends taken captive and suddenly they are thrust into a very adult situation, with very real, and scary consequences. Despite the fact they could quite easily hole up and hope for the best, they decide to take matters into their own hands and fight back.

All the characters are so well known to me, it's a little difficult for me to take a step back and see how they would come across to a new reader, but I'm certain they could definitely stand up. Ellie will always be one of my favourite teen characters - outwardly tough and brave, inwardly kind, caring and fiercely loyal. Homer, Fi, Robyn, Lee, Chris, Corrie and Kevin are all unique and lovable in their own ways, and together they make a strong, almost unified team. (I didn't even have to look all those names up, I remember them so well!).

Everything about Tomorrow, When the War Began is plausible, imaginable and well-considered. There's no sudden appearance of weapons and unexplained natural ability to kick arse, it's just simple, believable situations and reactions, both positive and negative.

I loved this book on audio - the narrator is a fantastic voice for Ellie, and the whole story holds up just as I remembered it. This is YA as it should be - it has the appeal for any reader of any age and despite the fact that next year it is 20 years old, it's not at all dated.

13 comments:

  1. Oh, my!
    I didn't know YA existed in the 1990s
    I was not even born when this book was published!
    But I have to admit, this does look interesting!
    I love the cover, I wonder if it's for the audio or paperback?
    I would definitely love to have this series, and I am gonna check it out on Goodreads.
    GREAT review, Kat
    Your constant reader,
    Soma
    http://insomnia-of-books.blogspot.com/

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    Replies
    1. YA has been around for a long time, but just not marketed as much as it is nowadays :)
      This is the new paperback cover (I didn't like the audiobook cover!) which I think is perfect for the book.

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  2. I read this in 2008 and really liked it. My library here doesn't have them so I can't read the series and it makes me SO SAD. Buying them is just such a commitment. :/

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    Replies
    1. It's so hard to track down in paperback which is a total shame :( I splurged a whole lot of Audible credits to get the first five books in the series!

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  3. You're so right---these do hold up very well---but now I'm going to have to try the audio edition thanks to you ;-) I have to laugh gently at Soma's comment (if she's serious but maybe she's joking) as YA has been around as long as fiction. Think Nancy Drew, The Princess Bride, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Call of the Wild, The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, etc.

    Lelia Taylor

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    Replies
    1. The audio version is great - I was worried about listening to this one when I loved reading it so much, but it was worth it :)

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  4. I really enjoyed this book it was really intense for me. I am an adult and could not imagine having this happen. I never read these when they came out. I am not sure how I missed them but I did. I listened to the first and about to listen to the second in the next month or so. Great book. Awesome review!

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    Replies
    1. It scared the bejesus out of me when I read it as a teenager. I couldn't imagine what it would be like to just have your country invaded like that :(

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  5. I've never read this book but I do like the premise (and the fact that it doesn't involve too much of the supernatural stuff). Sometimes I just want a more realistic approach when someone gets stuck in a terrible situation. Glad to hear the audio version did this beloved book some justice!

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    Replies
    1. There's not a spot of supernatural in here, and I think that's why I love it so much - I'm a bit of a purist like that ;-)

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  6. I loved this book when I read it 3 or 4 years ago. You're right, it does stand up to the test of time. One of these days I'll read the rest of the series.

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    Replies
    1. I'm going to listen to the second one very soon!

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  7. Oh, I've never read this one, but I know it's good. I really should take the time. Great review -- made me want to pick it up.

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