The Other Side of Dawn – review

The final book in John Marsden’s ‘Tomorrow’ series gives the young reader that rare and unusual gift – no easy conclusion.
Since we were introduced to Ellie Linton in ‘Tomorrow, when the war begins’, we’ve followed an extraordinary and vivid tale of teenagers at war. The story started six books ago. when Ellie and a group of her friends took themselves off for a few days to explore ‘Hell’, an area of barely accessible Australian wilderness a few hours hard drive from the Linton’s ranch home. When they emerged, they found that their country had been invaded, their families detained, and their homes abandoned. The series is not for the easily shocked; descriptions of animal suffering are treated with a typical farm girl matter of fact attitude.
The story is told in the first person by Ellie, who has been elected as the diarist by the rest of the group. By the end of the first book, she and her friends have already become a nascent guerilla force, determined to be a sharp thorn in the side of their country’s invaders.
The Other Side of Dawn sees the group back in Hell. Less than two years after the beginning of the invasion, they have made links with overseas allies, become the guardians of a group of younger kids, and developed strong bonds between themselves. Well supplied by their foreign allies, they plan a daring attack on the enemy at a crucial point of the war. The aftermath of the attack, however, sees Ellie separated from her friends, and forced to rely on her own mental and physical resources through a series of potentially fatal threats. As she travels through a country made alien by war, she meets new allies and new enemies, and has to make fast judgements to decide who is a friend, and who is not.
As the war comes to a close, and families are reunited, Ellie faces new problems – things are not as she expected them to be, and we leave her as an emotional casualty of war, a teenage girl who has killed and wounded the enemy to protect her friends and to fight for her country. Ellie has to find her place in the new Australia, a very different place to the one she grew up in, and fought to save.
Ellie is a hero for our time, a strong, adaptable teenage girl who keeps her conscience and her humanity through the worst of times, who knows when to lead, and when to stand back and use the strengths of her friends. I would strongly recommend that you introduce her to your teenagers this year.
The Tomorrow series was first published in the 1990s, and has been relaunched by Quercus books with an eye catching new set of covers.

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