The Third Day, The Frost, or A Killing Frost as it is known in the United States, is the third book in John Marsden’s Tomorrow series, and it is the book that stands out the most in my memory of reading this series in high school.
Reading it for a second time, I was still affected by its events and characters, but I did achieve a better understanding of what Marsden was trying to emphasize when he stabbed a knife in my adolescent heart.
Ugh, this book.
The Third Day, The Frost (Book 3)
And then there were five…
It has been six long months since Ellie and her friends returned home from a camping trip to find their families and neighbors imprisoned by an enemy that threatens to steal Australia’s freedom. Only Ellie’s group can stop this enemy. Like seasoned soldiers, they have adopted extreme methods.
When she’s not gathering food and supplies or running for her life, Ellie wonders at what they’ve become. Are they now ruthless terrorists themselves? What price will they pay for their actions? The more involved and vicious the battle gets, the higher the stakes. Everyone is fighting to survive.
A Killing Frost is the third in the series by John Marsden that began with Tomorrow, When the War Began and continued in The Dead of Night. As Ellie and her gang persist in fighting back, A Killing Frost proves the most riveting adventure yet. (Blurb)
Read this book, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
Tomorrow, When the War Began saw Ellie rising to the challenge and seeking justice for her homeland. The Dead of Night revealed the flaws and frailties of people. The Third Day, The Frost delves into the depravity and darkness of Ellie and her friends, and their salvation.
In order to understand The Third Day, The Frost, I have to talk just a little more about The Dead Of Night because the death of Chris in that novel haunts the teenagers (especially Ellie) in this third book:
In The Dead of Night, Ellie is concerned for Chris. She realizes that he’s drinking heavily, and the bits of his writing that she has read reflect a somber and morose young man. She doesn’t want to leave him behind, but he insists, and Ellie and the group head out and encounter Harvey’s Heroes. When they return, they cannot find Chris. Ellie is worried, but Chris had alienated himself from the group, and they’re a little preoccupied with other things to look for him.
So it is a month before they find Chris, long dead, his body rotting, ravaged, and forgotten.
Now in The Third Day, The Frost, Ellie is confronted by the harsh realities of her actions. The death of Chris has shaken her, as has her experiences with Harvey’s Heroes. Now she understands that there is no fairytale ending for her. She is emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted, and she has changed.
In The Third Day, The Frost, a moment of good and happiness is soured by the actions and consequences of the group’s ruthlessness. They find Kevin, whom they haven’t seen since he left them at the end of Tomorrow, When the War Began. Kevin is a prisoner and working under guard to prepare the homes and farms for the new settlers who are now arriving in Australia. They stage an elaborate rescue, which succeeds but at a cost. It is this rescue and Kevin’s reaction to what his friends do that mortifies Ellie.
[Kevin] looked at us like we were creatures from another planet. Well, at least I knew that wasn’t true. We weren’t creatures from another planet. We were just creatures from Hell. (55)
The gang comes up with a plan. There is adventure and lots of things blowing up, and again Marsden manages to write with such pathos what in the words of another author or in a completely different medium would be hidden by explosions and tough chicks with guns.
Plot-wise, the novel follows the same formula as those before it: Ellie and the teens wreak havoc and blow something up. Ka-boom. The difference is that this time they are caught. And this time they are confronted with the absolute power of their enemy.
The invaders – who are never nationally identified by Marsden in any of the books – view the teenagers as terrorists. And Ellie and her friends, with their Western World background, struggle with this identity. Because they are. Because in war people make decisions that in peace would horrify them.
What’s Good About The Third Day, The Frost
- The writing – whether it’s the gang rescuing Kevin or Ellie tackling an enemy soldier and going overboard into the sea – the writing is clear, realistic, and cinematic. By which I mean I do not get lost in the wording or Ellie’s narration. There is action, and I can visualize it. It’s edge-of-your-seat writing.
- The official recognition of Homer and Ellie as leaders of the gang – by the enemy. It’s completely true, although Ellie lacks confidence in herself and is always surprised by how the others perceive her. Homer and Ellie are the leaders, Fi is the follower, Kevin is the troublemaker, Lee is the rebel, and Robyn is the voice of reason.
- The constant motion and the climax of the story. In all of the books Ellie is constantly faced with the possibility of death. In many situations she narrowly misses being killed. In The Third Day, The Frost Ellie faces certain death. Being inside her head as that death approaches is incredibly difficult, but I applaud Marsden for his portrayal of it.
- Ellie finally – finally – breaks up with Lee. (I really don’t like Lee. He scares me, and it bothers me that Ellie is attracted to him.) I also applaud Marsden for not immediately substituting Lee with one of the other boys.
What’s Bad About The Third Day, The Frost
- The character who dies is one that I really love. While I understand why this character was sacrificed and how it affects Ellie and the rest of the series, it still hurts.
- At the end of my copy there was a chapter from Tomorrow, When the War Began and The Dead of Night that tricked me into thinking there was more to read.
The Third Day, The Frost is an excellent novel and contribution to the Tomorrow series. It is action-packed without being too Hollywood. I especially like how Marsden, even though he is writing fiction, is intent on creating conflicts that make both Ellie and the reader think about war and the affects it has.
Review: Tomorrow, When the War Began
Review: The Dead of Night