Okay, readers, here’s my thoughts on the second book in John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, The Dead of Night.
Prepare for the angst, peeps. And a few spoilers.
The Dead of Night (Book 2)
Australia has been invaded. Nothing is as it was. Six teenagers are living out a nightmare in the sanctuary of a hidden valley called Hell. Alone, they make their own rules, protect what’s theirs, and struggle for courage and hope in a world changed forever. Seeking supplies, allies, and information, the friends make forays into enemy territory, drawing on the nerve and resourcefulness they never knew they had. And as the risks become greater, so too do the sacrifices they make.
At once astonishing and frighteningly real, this companion to the award-wining Tomorrow, When the War Began is a riveting, passionate, wholly unforgettable adventure. (Blurb)
Book Two finds Ellie in a bad place. Her best friend Corrie has been shot and taken to the Showground by Kevin. On top of which the others have read Ellie’s account of their life in Hell (Tomorrow, When The War Began) and are upset with Ellie’s portrayal of themselves.
This has manifested in tense relationships and breakups.
After an attack on a convoy goes badly, the gang leaves their sanctuary of Hell to look for outside help. Chris stays behind in Hell, although Ellie is concerned about leaving him alone because he’s been distant and depressed. Plus, he’s secretly drinking.
The gang stumble across a resistance group called “Harvey’s Heroes.” Led by Major Harvey, a former school administrator, the resistance group takes the teenagers in and gives them a place within their community.
What’s Good About The Dead of the Night
- The novel focuses on the fact that Ellie and her friends are stuck in the middle of childhood and adulthood. They struggle with the things they see and do, but they also struggle with a loss of innocence. It’s a coming-of-age story, but there is no hopeful future for them.
- We also get to know the characters a bit better. It’s also confirmed that Ellie may not be the most reliable narrator.
What’s Bad About The Dead of the Night
- Ellie is an idiot whenever boys and romance are involved.
- People die.
I think The Dead of the Night is a solid sequel. It’s full of angst, but I still really enjoyed it and it felt plausible. It was a little slow at times, though.
One reason why I like these books is that I approve of how Marsden has portrayed the idea of teenage guerrilla warriors as serious and terrifying as opposed to making it more of a wild adventure.
The teenagers’ time with Harvey’s Heroes is just one instance where Marsden both terrifies me and awes me.
When they join Harvey’s Heroes, the teenagers regress to a childlike state of dependency and trust for the adults. They are separated from each other and assigned to an adult. Ellie’s companion is not much older than she, but she is very obedient to Major Harvey and urges Ellie to do the same.
Major Harvey and the others treat the teenagers like children. They are scolded for what they did in the previous novel. The girls are made to clean and cook, and Ellie comments that many of the women she’s with wear a lot of makeup.
There’s an urgent need within Harvey’s Heroes to maintain order and tradition. It’s pointless for the women to wear makeup in the bush, but by doing so they hold onto their lives from before. In one way, this is good. We could read this as Harvey’s Heroes choosing not to let their situation get them down and maintaining a sense of normalcy in a savage world.
However, it becomes apparent that this is not the case. The people in the small community are obedient to the strong and tyrannical rule of Major Harvey. He binds them in such a way that not many dare to think for themselves. They blindly trust in his authority and to tradition to save them.
Even Ellie does this, although she senses something is wrong. She trusts these adults to take care of her and her friends and seems to forget what she’s been through. She even forgets that Chris is waiting for them.
It’s like that scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion walk through the poppies.
When the safe haven Harvey’s Heroes has created in their ignorance is destroyed, the ensuing havoc is devastating. What happens to Harvey’s Heroes simply emphasizes how naïve and internally destructive their community was.
Previously: Review of Tomorrow, When The War Began