While not exactly the sort of speculative book that I usually review here, John Marsden's Tomorrow When the War Began does address a sort of interesting "what if" question that somehow mirrors the possibilities for what the world could become in the foreseeable future, even as it reflects on the hard questions that we should be asking ourselves today.
Set in Australia, the tale of the teenagers who find themselves in very unexpected, very unpleasant circumstances after a week camping in the bush is one that is pretty engaging. The characters are, for the most part, fairly believable young adults. There were places here and there where I thought the young female narrator didn't quite sound like a girl of her age, but it wasn't as troubling as it is in some books. Instead, it made me feel that she was an extraordinary girl — or, more appropriately, a pretty normal girl who rose to the challenges of the extraordinary circumstances in which she found herself.
The book is pretty much a page-turner. I read through it much more quickly than I expected too, and found myself thinking about it when I had to put it down and go to attend to real life. I liked the way some hard questions were addressed by Ellie. The narrative style drew me in almost from the beginning.
It's easy to see why Tomorrow When the War Began won so many awards over the years. I've not read any of the subsequent books in the series, but it seems they have garnered their share of recognition too. Makes me think it's probably worth picking them up as well, when I see them.
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