Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Review of Tomorrow, When The War Begins, by John Marsden

Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow, #1)Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Actual rating, 4.5 stars)

When Ellie and her friends go camping, they have no idea they're leaving their old lives behind forever. Despite a less-than-tragic food shortage and a secret crush or two, everything goes as planned. But a week later, they return home to find their houses empty and their pets starving. Something has gone wrong--horribly wrong. Before long, they realize the country has been invaded, and the entire town has been captured--including their families and all their friends. Ellie and the other survivors face an impossible decision: They can flee for the mountains or surrender. Or they can fight.

On Friday afternoon, I read an article on about a movie which was "Australia's answer to the Hunger Games." That sure as hell piqued my interest.

Even though the article wasn't terribly complementary, I was intrigued by the synopsis, and, since it was based on a book series, potentially opening up new reading territory for me...yeah.

So, I watched the movie (which, for interested parties, is only available on VOD at this point)with my husband. And we were both. Blown. Away.

(I should also mention that I'm highly suspicious of Australian film; the few Australian movies I've seen all seem to have been based on the bad acid trip someone experienced after reading about a significant event in Australian history.)

I immediately downloaded the book afterward and, well--let's just say that this was one movie adaptation which lost nothing in translation.

What I Liked: This book has earned a lot of well-deserved comparisons to The Hunger Games--but, if anything, it's grittier and more realistic. The whole book is like a Hunger Games situation which could actually happen. And that's what makes it so scary.

It was slow at times, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing--it contributed to the real-life feel of the book. The world, even a post-invasion world, isn't all explosions and gunfights. A lot of the time, it's sitting somewhere trying to catch your breath and process it all. And the pacing sort of added to the tension--when things were quiet, you, along with the characters, were waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Characters in novels are always talking about how much they're changed by events, or, rather, the author's always trying to point out to you how much they've been changed. No big red blinking arrows necessary here. The change is as apparent in Ellie's voice as it is in the choices they make.

What I Didn't: Though, as far as I can see books #2 and #4 are available on Kindle, book #3 isn't. And it's out of print, so it's semi-impossible to get ahold of without plunking down brand-new-Stephen-King-hardcover kind of money. However, I liked the first book enough that I'm actually bidding on a set of the next two on eBay, since that's the only place I can find them at a reasonable price.

The other thing--and this is why I'm recommending you read the book first--is that, in my opinion, the movie was actually a little better than the book. That meant that, at a few points, I had moments of mild disappointment when things weren't as spectacularly dramatic as they were in the movie. But I got over those moments pretty quickly.

Overall: A satisfying dose of literary methadone for those suffering from Hunger Games/Divergent-type withdrawal.

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