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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Audiobook Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

Posted by Irish in Review6 Comments

Publisher: Brilliance Audio/Bolinda (Audio); Scholastic (Print)
Source: Publisher
Publication Date:  26 Mar 2012 (Audio); 01 June 2006 (Print)
Series or Standalone: Series
ISBN: 174310880X  (Audio), 0439829100 (Print)
Format: Audio
Audio Length: 7 (~7.5 hrs)
Narrator: Suzi Dougherty
The Author on the Web:
John Marsden – Twitter
Place(s) Traveled to: Wirrawee, Australia 

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Tomorrow Series Order
Book 1: Tommorow, When the War Began
Book 2: The Dead of Night
Book 3: A Killing Frost
Book 4: Darkness, My Friend
Book 5: Burning for Revenge
Book 6: The Night is for Hunting
Book 7: The Other Side of Dawn

First Line: It’s only half an hour since somone – Robyn I think – said we should write everything down, it’s only twenty-nine minutes since I got chosen, and for those twenty-nine minutes I’ve had everyone crowded around me gazing at the blank page yelling ideas and advice.

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden is one of those books that I’ve heard about for years. Its always been on my list to read and I may have even purchased a copy or two but for whatever reason I never quite got around to reading it. When the opportunity came up to review the audio version I snapped at the chance since I love audio and this would be a great way to experience a book that has been recommended to me so highly by blogger friends that I trust.

This book is set in Australia but its one of those books that could have happened anywhere. The teens are the same and the issues that they face (at least at the start) are the same as well. The book opens with a group of friends all getting ready to graduate school and move onto college and want one last hoorah before they do. For this, they decide to go camping and after a few idyllic days away they return to find their entire world has changed. Their families have disappeared and its not long before they discover that their country has been invaded and nothing will ever be the same again.

Tomorrow is told from the POV of Ellie and while her thoughts are sometimes biased she is telling the story of her friends and also of her country. She isn’t perfect and she’ll be the first person to admit that she is flawed. Sometimes, Ellie is her own worst critic. But really, isn’t that the case with most people? As this is the first book in a series there is a lot of build up and background that takes place but the info dumps never take away from the story. Where you feel what the characters are feeling as it happens. Even though most of the book is about Ellie’s reflections on recent events you get a very clear idea of the progression of events. From the confusion to the fear to the desire to act.

There is a lot of growth that happens over the course of this book. At first, Ellie and her friends are your typical gang of teenagers but they the end of the book events have changed them in ways they never would have thought possible. And reading the story, a reader is bound to think what they might do if they were in Ellie’s place. I, for one, am not sure that I would be as strong as she was. I am not sure I’d be able to make the hard decisions. But then its easy to think that you’d just curl up into a ball and try to ignore the problem from the safety of your couch living in a world where things make sense. We humans are very adaptable and when it comes to survival people tend to surprise so I would hope that I would rise to the occasion if needed.

As an older book,  Tomorrow When the War Began could have felt dated but its really pretty timeless. I think that Marsden did an excellent job in creating a world that could happen anywhere and anywhen and that just adds to the scary realism of the story. I also liked how the story was a complete ARC. There was a beginning, a middle and an end. There were no cliff hangers and no being forced to have to read the next book to see where things go. If all you do is read this one book then you’ll have a full story. Though its nice to know that there is more to Ellie’s story and so I find that I like that this is a series. Tomorrow When the War Began is a gripping story filled with ‘what ifs’ and realism and is bound to make you think long after its over. I loved this book and I wish that I’d read it sooner. If you are a fan of the exploding dystopian genre then this one is a must read. Its dystopian done right.

About the narrator: With audios a narrator can make or break a book and overall I really like Suzi Dougherty’s style. Her voice became Ellie’s and I think its going to be hard to separate her from the character if I ever listen to other audios by her.  The one major gripe that I had was that she was a lip smacker. Every time she paused I could hear it and then once I noticed it I couldn’t stop and it became my nails on a chalk board. Dougherty was great with all the voices and the Aussie slang (it helped that I think she’s Aussie herself) but that lip smacking was grating. Its a testament to how wonderful the story was that I was able to stick with the book. 

6 Responses to “Audiobook Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden”

  1. Beth F

    I loved this book, this series, and the audio. I’m so glad I never noticed the lip smacking and now I’m afraid to re-listen. LOL.

    Marsden captures teens so well. And good point about the timelessness.

  2. Lana

    I found myself really enjoying this one (though I was a bit irritated at the amount of time devoted to which of the boys Ellie was interested at any one moment – it kind of breaks the central conceit when your narrator KNOWS other people are going to read it, maybe she wouldn’t talk about who she fancies the pants off of at any particular moment?)

    I liked a lot how realistic the teens’ reactions seemed (despite the exploding/adventure/dystopia-ness of it all) and how much it made me think about how I might react under similar circumstances.

    I just recently got a chance to see the movie, which I also enjoyed (less love-triangling).

    I enjoyed your review and have added your link to mine

    • Anonymous

      The highly personal nature of Ellie’s account is addressed in the sequel.

  3. bermudaonion

    Carl read this book in print and wasn’t crazy about it so I haven’t felt inclined to pick it up. I may have to rethink that.

    • Irish

      I know that I’d picked up the print version a few times but never progressed far. I really enjoyed the audio version though.

  4. Marg

    I was really pleasantly surprised when I read this a couple of years ago, and went on to read the next couple of books in the series. I must get back to this series and see where Marsden takes it next.