The second instalment in John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, The Dead of the Night is really when it all kicks off. Yes, Ellie and her friends have done some damage to the enemy by blowing up a bridge and they already have some blood on their hands. However, it isn’t until this book that they start to see the true impact this war has already had on the area. A young adult novel series, this book continues to be written in the same tone from Ellie’s perspective as she continues to write the accounts of what’s happening around them. It’s different this time, like there’s a shift in her language. Before, she wrote because everyone wanted her to so they could get their record straight. This time, it’s still to keep a record for others to read but she’s doing it because she knows it’s important, both for others to read and for her sanity.
It begins a while after the events in the first book. The group have gone over what Ellie has written and there have been mixed responses. She was honest and didn’t spare any details, which resulted in everyone being quite timid around her. Their relationships have changed and their all on edge. However, it can be seen past all of it that they’re still reeling after the loss of two of their members. No, they’re not dead… or at least that’s what they hope. They don’t know since they haven’t seen them since they drove off. They were a tight unit and now they’re separated, and one of the two was Ellie’s best friend, Corrie.
It’s hard for anyone to consider what they would do at the prospect of losing their best friend. However, there is still some hope within the group that both Corrie and Kevin are alive. Then, with the suggestion from Homer (after a brilliant speech about ‘thinking brave’), they find some energy within themselves to go find out if they should keep their hopes alive. It’s decided they will check out the hospital, where Kevin drove Corrie to since they knew it was still being used.
The idea is frightening since they didn’t know what to expect after their attack. They weren’t sure what would be happening out in town or what kind of search habits were occurring after the mess they had made. Nonetheless, they are able to make it to the hospital. After a few failed attempts to get inside and a useful lightbulb moment, Ellie and Lee are able to make it inside. They find Corrie comatose, and although she is alive it pains Ellie to see her in that way.
They find out that Kevin has been taken to the showgrounds, and it is during this conversation with another patient at the hospital that they start to learn how bad it really is. Their attack on the bridge caused a big fuss amongst the enemy but Ellie finds herself intrigued by something else. The people who are attacking are just that… people. Who would think that human beings could actually do what they’re doing?
That isn’t the end of it though. The group head back to Hell, their new home, and discuss what has happened. It doesn’t take long until they want to set off and see what else they can do. Chris is less enthused by the idea and decides to stay back in the camp. They wander off from Hell into the unknown of the bush… and soon find others. Guerrillas like them but… different, under the banner of ‘Harvey’s Heroes’. A group who they thought would be pleased to hear about their efforts but are soon constricted in the grasp of Major Harvey, forced apart to do menial tasks.
Soon, a group is assembled to go to a broken-down truck on the side of the road, a target they usually blow up or set on fire. Spectators are allowed to go and watch, so the main group head off… only to realise they’ve landed themselves into a trap.
A story of love, hope and destruction, The Dead of the Night highlights the many aspects of war that go unnoticed in most accounts. The war has only just begun and yet so much blood has been spilt, and the group becomes smaller as we reach the end of this instalment…
What I thought
I always find that it’s the second book of any series that really kicks it into gear, and The Dead of the Night by John Marsden definitely delivers! The change in Ellie’s tone as she goes from being unaware of the severity of the situation to now is an incredible show of characterisation.
I really like that there’s quite a long gap between when the first book ends and when the second one begins. It provides intrigue around how the characters have changed after the events. And then there’s the added layer of the characters being affected by what Ellie wrote in the first book. It’s that real personal connection with the characters, like you’re one of them, that really pulls you in.
The book itself ranks very highly with me. Each character is becoming strained due to the worry they have for their families, the lack of food they have and more. You start to see their personalities begin to shift and who we met in the first book are now completely different people. While I read this story, I kept trying to guess how each character would react, and most times I found myself pleasantly surprised.
There are also other aspects that resonate deeply within me as I read this story. It’s touched upon in the first book but is really highlighted in the second, and that is the fact that everyone involved in war, no matter what side you’re on, is a human being. They have lived lives and have feelings just like everybody else. It is so easy for us to imagine the ‘enemy’ as this big bad monster, but at the heart of it they’re the same as you and I—humans with memories and emotions.
It also gets me thinking how I would react in similar situations, which adds another personal element into this story. There are times while Ellie is documenting the events that she writes directly to the reader, which sucks them deeper into the story. All in all, if you’re already hooked onto this story after the first instalment, this book will tighten that grasp and pull you in further.
Ultimately, I think this book is a great second instalment to a fantastic series so far. Now, it’s time to get into the third, The Third Day, the Frost.
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.