The sixth book in the very popular Tomorrow series by Australian
author John Marsden.
When I first read this book my immediate reaction was that it was quite
similar to Darkness Be My Friend, but now I think there are several
important differences between the two.
The story takes quite a different turn with the introduction of several
new characters and the effect they have on the group is what makes it
One of the main characters in the book, Ellie, says what happened to them
with the children from Stratton reminded her of 'Lord of the Flies'.
This is one of the few cases in a story I know of that the main character
articulates thoughts that are held by the reader so strongly.
There are also some interesting developments with the characters in
this novel. One of these is when Fi sticks the knife in while talking
to Ellie over her treatment of Lee since the incident with him a while
Of course what is even more interesting is the introduction of the feral kids
from Stratton: Gavin, Jack, Darina, Casey and Natalie. They are quite surprising in their
actions and the spirit they show whilst trying to run away after being rescued.
Some people may back disappointed by the situations in this novel, that they are not
as 'explosive' as those in previous books in the series. I don't agree with this as I feel
that they are very dramatic and well handled.
Some of the situations that express this are the escape of the group from Stratton
with Ellie driving the truck and the search for the kids when they run off, which seems
to go on to the point of exhaustion.
As with the previous book in the series, the language in the is novel is very dark.
I believe the way the language in each successive book in the series seems to get darker and more threatening, suits the series perfectly as the characters seem to be getting into more dangerous situations as the war progresses.
Overall, although it is a very dark book to read, it does make up for it with interesting
characters and some exciting situations.
The following contains spoilers for the book...
The book starts with the group still hiding out at Ellie's Grandmother's house in Stratton.
Ellie still hasn't forgiven Lee for going off with one of the enemy (a girl with dark hair
named Reni who liked to swim in the nude) and they are scared by the motorbike patrols
that are frighteningly effective and swift.
Ellie is also concerned about the fate of the street kids who mugged them and convinces
Lee to go with her to check on them.
When they get to the kids hiding place, they find to their horror that
the kids are about to be caught by enemy soldiers. Ellie thinks fast
and goes for the truck they were in while Lee goes off to warn the kids.
Ellie manages to start the truck and go forward, only to find Lee has been captured.
Acting quickly, she escapes the soldiers with the kids and Lee in the back of the truck
and they literally crash through the streets of Stratton.
Pulling up at Ellie's Grandmother's house with only a couple of minutes to spare, they
pick up the others and go for another wild ride out of Stratton.
Ellie drives all night and they end up back on Tailor's Stitch by late morning.
She is surprised to find all the kids are asleep and with her friends, even though the
ride in the back of the truck was extremely rough.
The kids dig in their heels and refuse to go any further, they have
to be cajoled into moving by everyone in the group. This doesn't last
long though, as the kid's leader, Gavin, decides to go off in the other
Ellie lets them go, knowing that as they have no experience in the bush, the kids will go
in the wrong direction. Fi is really anxious to go after them, but Ellie makes them wait.
Even in such a short time they managed to get a long way ahead.
After they find the kids and settle them down, Ellie volunteers to go down into Hell and
brick back some food. Surprisingly, Fi wants to come as well, but as Ellie finds out it
is for a reason as she has some things she wants to talk to her about. When Fi does it,
she really sticks in the knife which shocks Ellie, but it does get her thinking that
perhaps she has been to hard on everyone.
When they arrive back and all have something to eat, everyone seems to either go to sleep
or go off and do their own thing.
Four hours later, they find to their horror that the kids have nicked off and Ellie and
her friends immediately begin a search for them.
The search lasts for the best part of three days and ends tragically when they find that
one child has died before they could reach her.
It takes them even longer for them to get back to Tailor's Stitch and into Hell and Ellie
has to go back for food several times. Homer, Kevin and Fi are looking after the kids and
Lee is on sentry the entire time.
When they finally get back into Hell, they manage to settle down a bit and learn some more
about the kids: Gavin is deaf, Jack lived with his father before the war and had a pretty
rough time, Natalie complains a lot and Casey can't seem to remember much about her parents.
Fi and Ellie have another talk, a nice one this time, where they come
up with the idea of celebrating Christmas for the kids and themselves.
This will necessitate a raid on a farmhouse, something that they are not
looking forward to.
Later that night, Ellie, Fi and Homer are walking down Tailor's Stitch when they realise
they are being followed. They are just about to attack their pursuer when they find out
that it is Gavin. As it is too late to take him back, he goes with them to farmhouse.
They get into the kitchen and their raid seems to be going well, when people burst in and they are captured.
Homer is beat up and the other three are put in the boots (trunks) of cars. Ellie manages to get out
and leaves Fi and Gavin to escape, but she is discovered and quickly decides to take a
motorbike through the house to rescue Homer.
After an even more wild ride than the in the truck in Stratton, the three finally
make it back to Hell.
Their Christmas celebration goes really well and Ellie even manages
to forgive Lee for what he did (he apologises uncategorically.)
However, ever since their attack on the airfield, they have been more aware of the hunt for them and they feel they can no longer take their own safety for granted, even in Hell...