Since this is the fifth book of the series, this review may have some spoilers in it. If you don’t want to ruin the book and want to read it for yourself, I recommend not reading past this paragraph. If you’ve stumbled upon this review looking for something about the series, go check out the review for the first book Tomorrow, When the War Began.
As the title suggests, John Marsden’s fifth instalment in his Tomorrow series brings back the fire with action that was missing in Darkness, Be My Friend. So, if you were not interested or did not enjoy the lack of action previously, you definitely get your money’s worth here. Remember when the New Zealand guerrillas wanted to blow up the airbase with the help of Ellie and co? Well, with all the unlucky attempts in book four, book five shows how ‘lucky’ they are to finally be able to do it, even though they didn’t necessarily plan to.
Some aspects of this book I really enjoyed whereas there were a few times where I felt like there could only be one solution to their problem, in which case I read with a ‘well, it has to happen like this’ frame of mind. The action was phenomenal and the characters reaction to it really emphasised what was built in the last book, which was the emotional and mental fragilities that had been unmasked. However, people can only be so lucky in life, and so I found some of the results a little bit predictable. Then, there was Lee’s betrayal, which is a whole other issue in itself, but I’ll get into that later.
At the beginning of the book, we become quite aware of the change in mindsets the characters have regarding the war. It’s hard for them to believe they can win it, particularly with New Zealand not being much help for them. So, instead of keeping positive, they are now in the frame of mind of how they wish to die, not how they will survive the war.
They come to the conclusion that they want to die fighting, not hiding. Whatever they can do to impact the war in their favour or to bring pain to the invaders becomes they’re goal. Kevin, who became very comfortable with living away from the war (who can blame him?), is a little more apprehensive about it all. But, the majority is in favour of acting, so that’s what they set out to do.
Fast forward to them accidentally getting themselves right in the heart of the enemy airbase. They don’t know how they’re going to get out, and everyone sees their survival coming to a grinding halt. After observing the way the airbase works and what is surrounding them, they come to the conclusion that they need to do something. They’re in the heart of the bloody airbase! They can’t let this opportunity go!
Enter the action. There are a lot of pew pew pews and really big BANGS, which isn't surprising since planes tend to do the exploding thing quite well. Kevin is unable to help the team’s efforts due to having a mental breakdown at the prospect of probably losing his life, but the rest achieve one of the biggest victories. The action is fantastically written, keeping us on edge as it goes on and on. But, since there are more books to come after this one, everyone gets out alive.
They are in shock at this fact since it seemed absolutely impossible to achieve such a feat (a little too lucky, if you ask me). So, after all of the exhilaration, they find themselves at Ellie’s grandma’s house. We start to see how each person copes with what has just happened, with more emphasis on their physical and mental well-being that began to arch its head in the previous book. Each person detaches themselves from the rest, focussing on their own situations and how to best cope. Kevin is in the garden (and we don’t talk about what happened at the airbase with him), Homer blanks out, Ellie is more aggressive around others, and Lee disappears off into the night with no one really knowing or caring what he’s up to.
Fi is the only one who seems to cope the best. While everyone else is drifting off in all directions, she brings everyone back in. Although we deem Ellie as the leader since she’s the protagonist and seems to make all the decisions, it’s Fiona who seems to provide the calming qualities that are really needed during this time. It's in these moments when we really start to see Ellie's dependency for Fi, which I'm sure we can understand. Whenever we're in bad situations, is there anyone we tend to lean on for support?
Then it's found out that Lee has been going off and sleeping with the enemy. Yes, you read that right. He’s not only decided to get sexually involved with someone but he’s betrayed our Ellie! Suddenly, she doesn’t know what to think, and she becomes completely disconnected to everyone. She doesn’t know who to trust, and so we as readers become distrustful of the other characters.
Ultimately, this instalment shows the mess that has become of this group of teenagers. They are in such a destructive frame of mind, wanting to die with a cause rather than trying to survive.
But, as we head into the next book and we are introduced to the ferals, there is a change in the group—a change for the better.
What did you think of this instalment? Did you enjoy the action after the lull in the previous instalment? Let me know in the comments below!
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.