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Do You Come From A Land Down Under, Where Women Glow And Men Plunder?

Megan checks out an Australian classic, Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden, in which a group of teens must survive a hostile invasion of their homeland.

Do You Come From A Land Down Under, Where Women Glow And Men Plunder?

BOOK REPORT for Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow Book 1) by John Marsden

BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 5
Talky Talk: My Super Secret War Diary
Bonus Factors: The Outback, Guerrilla Fighting, Camping, Sexy Male Asian Love Interest
Relationship Status: Booty Call

The Deal:

Ellie and her friends are your average small town Australian teenagers. During holiday, they convince their parents to let them go camping for a week, sans adult supervision. When they return home, they find their families missing, their food rotting and their animals dead or dying. Upon further investigation, they discover their entire town is being held captive and that the entire country of Australia has been invaded by an unknown and hostile foreign nation. So we follow our group of protagonists as they gather supplies to survive on, try to hide from their enemies and ultimately, fight back.

Unrelated to the plot, but interesting - if you are decidedly not an Aussie (as I am not), you may have never heard of this book. But it's a big deal! Like, the biggest deal in Australia. Published in 1993, it's sold millions of copies since. It's spawned six sequels (a septology!) It's basically required reading for high schoolers (yeah, how much would 14 year old me rather have read this than John Steinbeck. Every. Goddamn. Year. Another Steinbeck). But for some reason America is really bad at importing other countries books. We should, like, really get better about that.

BFF Charm: Yay

Ellie is definitely the kind of friend you want around if you, say, get invaded by a hostile foreign nation. Her rancher-style upbringing has made her strong, resourceful and independent. But in a non life or death situation she seems pretty damn fun too. She's planning activities for her friends (hello boy-girl camping trip) and is always up to shoot the shit (especially when it comes to talking about guys.) And girl would never leave a man behind, which is pretty solid in my book.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Ellie spends a large portion of the books trying to decide between two guys (I promise, in a very realistic and not obnoxious way! It's a lot similar to the real love triangles high schoolers experience) so we don't get too much action right away. But once she does decide we get some fairly intimate scenes between the two of them. I mean, there are no parents around, there are heightened emotions due to the direness of the situation. Perfect recipe for romantic business. We didn't get too much though, because, hey gotta save something for the sequel.

Talky Talk: My Super Secret War Diary

Ummmm...yeah, so...this book is written in first person narrative diary style. The concept is that Ellie has been chosen by her friends to write 'their story' (uhh) for posterity's sake or whatever. Fine. BUT, if that is the case, then let's please be realistic here. If you're writing your friends story down that all of your friends can see, you would clearly not be writing about the boys you like. You would not, I repeat would NOT be describing which boys give you tingly feelings in what parts. I know we're in a generation of oversharers but I found it super distracting to read something that made me go omg she would never write that, that's so awkward. I'm sure the author wanted the writing to be more real and emotional but then why not just go regular first person narrative and scrap the whole diary part. Especially because the action scenes would have felt much more gripping that way instead of oh, they'll be fine because she's writing this down later.

Bonus Factor: The Outback

This book is set in Australia! In the Outback! Isn't the Outback amazing? So beautiful and impressive and I just...can't...stop...Google...image searching.

Bonus Factor: Guerrilla Fighting

Guerrilla warfare is the hizzy! Especially when teenagers are involved. Don't believe me? I mean, have you seen Red Dawn? Hello! It's got Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey! It's basically like the prequel to Dirty Dancing except the person trying to put Baby in a corner is Communist Russia. What's not to love? I suppose Charlie Sheen is in it too but that's okay because this was waaay before he started locking prostitutes into closets.* But seriously, Netflix that shit. You will feel so goddamn American.

*I cannot verify this claim. I have a feeling he may have actually emerged from the womb while simultaneously trying to lock a prostitute into a closet. I can't verify that either. But it seems entirely possible.

Bonus Factor: Camping

Camping! It's like going to a hotel but with dirt beds! And all the bugs are free! And you get to relieve yourself on the ground, like an animal! And the only thing separating you from woodsy serial killers is a few layers of waterproof almost waterproof fabric! Okay, so maybe I don't like camping but that's because I'm old and set in my ways and get the hell of my lawn. But I would totally like camping at 17, like these kids, if there are snacks involved and fun stories and the possibility that i could end up snuggling in a cute boy's sleeping bag.

Bonus Factor: Sexy Male Asian Love Interest

Now before you start accusing me of fetishizing a specific race, I just want to say THAT YOU ARE THE ONE FETISHIZING, SO STOP PROJECTING. I honestly don't think I've ever read a YA book with a male Asian love interest. Hell, I can barely remember the last time I read about a non-white love interest. So this is me giving props to the author here especially because he doesn't make it a thing. There's no OMG LOOKS AT ME I'M SO DARING from our protagonist. He's cool and interesting and hot and that's all that matters! (Ermmm, sorry to all you ugly fictional guys. You'll have your day, some day, I promise!)

Note on the photo: Googling 'sexy Asian male' started making me feel very weird, very fast. So instead I gaveyou a, possibly photo-shopped picture of one of my favorite professional Korean Starcraft players. You're welcome.

Casting Call:

If I were Baz Luhrmann, I would just cast Nicole Kidman, because she's the only Australian actress, apparently, ever, and because she's clearly some sort of vampire who ages backward. She's due to play a high schooler any day now. But since I'm not and since Australia released a film adaption just a couple of month ago, I will defer to their choices.

Look at those faces, would you dare recast them? They will knife you so hard if you try.

Relationship Status: Booty Call

This can't see anything long term with this book, but it has a lot of qualities I'm looking for (action, suspense, warfare!) While similar books may already have my heart, I have to admit it was one hell of a ride and we sure had fun together. So when my other books aren't returning my calls, there's a strong possibility I might call on this book again. I mean, we're both young and I wouldn't mind checking out what one of these sequels might have in store for me.
Megan Crane's photo About the Author: Megan is an unabashed fangirl who is often in a state of panic about her inability to watch, read and play all the things.