If you're looking for a long series that will take you on an emotional ride of a life time, then look no further. The Tomorrow series by John Marsden is a young adult series that hits home for anyone who reads it, kicking off in the first book Tomorrow, When the War Began. As you can guess by that title, it is a series about war. However, if you're not into reading about war, guns and action, you may still like this series due to the emotional depth it has.
Imagine you're in high school and you're just about to finish or about to head into your final year. You're full of excitement (I know I was) and all you want to do is celebrate with your friends and show off your new independence now that you're totally a fully-fledged adult at the age of 17 or 18. Maybe you go out to clubs and party more often, or maybe you catch up on weekends more to talk about future work or university. For Ellie and her friends, they go camping. Not just with the girls either. Yep, you heard right, they get to bring the boys along too. It becomes a fantastic getaway to hang out, relax and enjoy the Australian outback... until the planes come.
Have you ever imagined what it would be like if you went on a holiday and when you came back, nothing was the same? Maybe something in your family has changed or the apocalypse happened but you weren't there to experience it. Well, this series really explores this whole idea by taking a group of teenagers, sticking them in a fun and happy camp, and then bringing them back to a war zone. Yep, you read right, a war zone. Families and friends are captured and all of a sudden they're fighting for survival.
Ultimately, this is a series about survival and growing up. These teenagers begin on their journey as young adults about to adventure out into the big adult world, but by the end they've experienced more than what most people experience in their whole lives. They watch people die by their own hands, they make world-changing decisions on the fly, and everything they do determines if they get to take another breath and see another day.
It's a long series, there's no doubt about it. There are seven books in total, all around the same length (except for the last book, which is a little bit longer). For a young adult series about a war in the Australian outback, it's hard to believe that you can fit in seven original books without becoming repetitive. However, John Marsden is able to bring to life unique stories for each book, making them all engaging.
They're not all action-packed either, which is refreshing to read. The action scenes are very well written and have you on the edge of your seat, but having quiet moments where the real impact of war sinks in is really important to the progression of this series. There is an emphasis on trauma and what it does to a person. There is emotional, mental and physical healing covered in this series, and I think that many people can read this series and interpret the war and the characters recovery to match their own lives, no matter what challenges they are facing.
However, I do have one issue with this series and I do mention it in the reviews for each individual book (which I list and link to at the end of this review). My issue is the huge pot of luck these teenagers have. You could argue that they go through a lot of terrible events and witness a lot of death and loss. Nonetheless, I think there are too many instances where luck has gotten the teenagers across the line when in real life, they probably would not have been so lucky. This is the joy of storytelling though, which is the ability to create this luck for your characters. It probably wouldn't have been a very long or engaging series if it ended two books in because the main character got shot!
Altogether, I think this is a fantastic series. I first experienced it when I was in primary school but I fully appreciate the emotional depth and intense scenes now that I am older. I would highly recommend this to anyone. Whether you're interested in war stories or not, I think there is enough humour, emotions and other young adult themes that make this series enjoyable for a range of readers.
Let me know what you think of this series! And, if you'd like to read the reviews for each of the books, you will find them listed below.
Tomorrow, When the War Began
The Dead of the Night
The Third Day, the Frost
Darkness, Be My Friend
Burning for Revenge
The Night is for Hunting
The Other Side of Dawn
Remember to ignite the story and I'll see you again soon!
Charlotte is a reading and writing lover who has completed a creative writing intensive course at the University of Oxford and is a current university student studying a double degree in journalism and creative writing. If you are curious to learn more, check out the 'About' page.