Original Publication: 1993
This edition: 5 January 2012 by Quercus
Pages: 288 (paperback)
Genre/s: YA, War, Post-Apocalyptic
Source: Own library
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. As the risks become greater, so too do the sacrifices they must make.
There's something infinitely scary about re-reading a series that I loved as a teenager. Did I love them because they enjoyed them at that particular stage of my life, and have my tastes and expectations changed with age and experience? I felt tense when I re-read the first book in the series a few months ago, and although I loved it just as much as I did ten plus years ago, I felt that same tension when I started reading In the Dead of the Night.
The story picks up a little after the end of Tomorrow, When the War Began, but not much has really happened. The main characters have retreated to their sanctuary to refuel and reflect, and to fight some of their personal demons. As their period of inactivity starts to drive them to distraction, they make a decision to venture out again, although in a different direction than they did the in the first book.
What I love about this series is the reality of it - although the situation is not real, it's easily imaginable, and the character's reactions fit perfectly. They are, after all, teenagers - resourceful, clever teenagers, but they are just a bunch of kids from a country town, thrown into a scary, dangerous situation which their previous lives haven't really equipped them for. They have experience with firearms and bush survival, but in this book their vulnerabilities also come through, as they widen the area in which they travel, try to find out more about what has happened to their country, and the bonds that tie them together become even stronger through their shared experiences.
There is as much action as the first book, although there is also a lot of focus on the relationships between some of the characters, and finding out more about them as individuals.
One point I feel I have to make about this book (and in fact the whole series), and it doesn't matter so much to me because I spent the first twenty-five years of my life in Australia, is that there is a fair smattering of Australian slang throughout the book. It does give the characters and dialogue a very authentic feel, but for someone unfamiliar it may be a little overwhelming. There is also a few outdated references (e.g. to electronic mail) that feel a bit awkward, but it's also fitting for the time in which the book was written - after all, when I was a teenager, e-mail was only just coming into common usage.
As with all the books in the series, this one does end in a bit of a cliffhanger, but it's the kind that makes you hunger for the next book rather than wanting to throw the book across the room in frustration. I'm very glad I decided to re-read this series after so many years, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of them very soon.