“But for now, for now, let’s say it’s true. Let’s say we've been invaded. I think there might be a war”
Tomorrow, When the War Began begins with seven teenagers – Ellie, Corrie, Homer, Lee, Kevin, Fiona (or Fi) and Robyn – going bush for five days before their school holidays are over. They head out just before Commemoration Day, and set off to a place known locally as Hell, complete with Satan’s Steps and all. When they return to Wirrawee, they realise that things have changed; drastically. They find nobody… This is their story of what they have to face, and what they had to do to survive.
I was really fascinated during this book, and that’s a reaction I wasn't expecting to have. I thoroughly enjoyed the concept. It forces us looks at the possibility of an invasion of our own country, and how we would cope and react with the realisation that our families, friends and neighbours have been taken captive. One thing I loved; it kept me asking myself questions, like how would I really react in these situations. Everyone thinks they will act a certain way, but when the situation actually occurs, often it’s a very different reaction that’s taken.
I really enjoyed the characters; I found it refreshing to be introduced to intelligent and well balanced seventeen year olds, and it’s such a treat to see this in a YA book. They constantly show a maturity far beyond their years, and yes, they were forced to grow up incredibly fast – almost overnight. I found it really interesting to see how each reacted to their new reality. They were put into a situation that is going to be very hard for anyone – young or old – to come to terms with.
“But I’ve learned something now. Corrie, we were still innocent. Right up to yesterday. We didn’t believe in Santa Clause but we believed in other fantasies. You said it. You said the big one. We believed we were safe. That was the big fantasy. Now we know we’re not, and like you said, we’ll never feel safe again, and so it’s bye-bye innocence. It’s been nice knowing you, but you’re gone now.”
The story is narrated from Ellie’s perspective, and the characters she is closest to are the ones we get to know the most about. She has been chosen to record their plight and the issues that they face. We follow her views and experiences with finding a new strength that she didn’t realise was there before, or was hidden with no purpose to come out until the invasion occurred, and finding out what true courage is.
I enjoyed the way the story was told and it made a war feel very real, without skimming over the blood and consequences. My only nagging issue – invading a country like Australia is going to have an awful lot of repercussions, especially in this day and age. From when the book was first published, I reckon the book is set very late in the 1980’s to early 1990’s – for example, when we see a Walkman mentioned, that brings me right back to my childhood in the 90’s, not to some futuristic version of the world – and the world was a very different place back then. It certainly was within the realms of possibility in 1993. In our time now, I can’t imagine the rest of the world sitting back in that situation and it was made to seem that that is what was happening. Having said that, what I take away from reading this is the possibility that it could happen. Like in the quote that I posted above, it’s the naivety that thinking it will never happen that could get us all in a lot of trouble.