I can remember the first time that I read this book it was in one sitting as I just couldn't stop reading. By the time I had finished I realised it was dark outside. My mother is a big fan of the series also.
Since 1998 I have also run a website about the Tomorrow series and have answered many questions about the book as well as being mistaken for the author many times.
The latest news I have heard about the film adaptations is that the rights had been bought by a Sydney based production company who plan to produce all the movies in the one year.
As it's been a few years since I first did a review of this book and the fact that
I have now read it about four times as well as listening to it once on tape,
I thought I should take the time to have a look at it again.
The format I will take in this review is to give my feelings on each thing
I consider important in turn: story, characters, situations and the language used.
What I like so much about the story is that it starts out like a normal description
of a camping trip by a girl with her friends, but before long something much
darker has been foreshadowed.
My favourite part of the story would have to be the description of the characters first reactions to the situation they find themselves in. On reading this section I always get a sinking feeling in my stomach as the way the story proceeds just seems to be spot on and very graphic.
I suppose most people's favourite sections of the story would be the descriptions
of the characters 'in action' around their home town. Probably the fact that I
have read this book a few times, means that they have lost their impact for me.
If you were reading it for the first time however, you would probably get more
of a sense of suspense and excitement from these passages in the story.
As I don't want to give away the ending, I'd just like to say that I thought
it was very well handled and seemed to be a fitting end to the story.
The character development of this novel is something that also stands out.
In the start of the story, it is established that there is really nothing
special about the people being described by the narrator, they
could be your own friends.
What is done very well with the characters, is that they are portrayed realistically
and not idealised or made into heroic figures. Their reactions are what you would
expect to the things they experience. How they interact with one another in
these situations is also portrayed truthfully.
Considering the topic of the book, I believe the situations show are fairly realistic.
As I have no experience in living in a war zone, I can't really tell you what degree
of realism they really possess. All I know is what I have seen through the news media
about East Timor and similar countries experiencing conflict.
The 'sneaking around in the dark' situations in this book also seem to be well written. Probably the closest thing you could get to experiencing the same situation of 'sneaking around' in real life, would be to join an organisation called the Cave Clan
(after you turn 18 of course), as they regularly explore places other
people don't want them to be.
On repeated readings, probably the only thing that doesn't seem to stand up as well
to scrutiny is the language used. Given the original audience of the novel, this can
be forgiven as it suits the style the narrator adopts to tell the story.
I am reluctant to say if this book is the 'best' in the Tomorrow Series, but as it
was originally written as a 'stand alone' book and not meant to be a continuation
of a story, it does seem to stand out as a great book in its own right.
The following contains spoilers for the book
A group of friends go camping in a remote valley named Hell for a week.
They expect afterwards to return to their homes and find everything as
it was before, they couldn't be more wrong.
Due to a conversation that took place the day before
they were due to leave, the main character (Ellie), is on edge when the
group seems to take too long to get back to her home.
Her fears are realised when she finds her house deserted, and even
more frighteningly, the working dogs are dead, still chained to their
kennels and the electricity and phone have been cut off.
Seeing the situation at her house, Ellie suggests they go to Homer's
house down the road. On finding that house deserted, some hard truths
have to be confronted and plans have to be made.
After deciding to wait until dark, the group go to the houses of
Kevin and Corrie. From there they decide to go check out their home
town of Wirrawee to see what has happened since they left there.
In town they run into trouble when Ellie, Corrie and Kevin are shot
at while checking out the showground, where they inhabitants of the
area are being imprisoned. This leads to an explosive situation where
the three only just manage to escape.
On rejoining the rest of the group, they realise to their horror
that Robyn and Lee have not returned. Deciding they can't wait any
longer, they return to Corrie's to regroup.
As their minds are on other things, the group is surprised by a
helicopter patrol and they see to their horror that Kevin's dog,
Flip, is outside barking at the chopper. They only just manage
to retreat to the shearer's quarters out the back when an enemy
jet appears and destroys Corrie's house.
After waiting for Corrie to calm down, they carry out Homer's plan
of gathering supplies for their camp in Hell. Ellie and Homer decide
to go back into Wiarrawee to try and find out what happened
to Robyn and Lee.
On arriving at Robyn's house, Ellie surprises Robyn, who then faints.
A while later they learn what has happened to Lee, so they decide
to go pick him up from parent's restaurant and get out of town.
In an impressive sequence, Ellie drives a truck which has a shovel
on the front (which they put Lee into), but by this stage they
are being chased by soldiers in vehicles. They manage to lose them
and head out to another rural property to swap cars. Just as they
are dumping the car in the dam, they find Chris, who has been hiding
on his property for a week.
For about a week or so, the group recuperates in the safety of Hell.
Finally, they decide to send another group out for an information
gathering mission in Wirrawee, while the rest of the group
improves the camp.
When the others return, Homer decides they should do something more
to help the war effort. Something that would set the enemy back in
the invasion of the country. As I don't want to give away the ending,
all I will say is that involves a petrol tanker and a major feature
on the highway that runs into Wirrawee...