Book 5 in "The Tomorrow series" by John
the plot of this novel
Please don't read on if this concerns you
"'Sometimes there aren't any questions
any more. Sometimes there's nothing to debate. If we have a choice
at all, it might be as simple as this: to die fighting or to die
as cowards. Not much of a choice, I agree, but if that's the way
it is, I know what I prefer.'
Lee's statement shocked us into silence. He put in words what
I'd felt for some time ..." Page 25
John Marsden certainly doesn't waste time setting the emotional
scene for this novel. Chilling ? Yes, especially when you consider
that Lee has likely just turned 17, and that Ellie, probably Homer
and maybe even Fi agree with him.
Less than two weeks before, in the fight at Wirrawee, Ellie was
seeing the "they will never take me alive" mind
set as a perfectly reasonable one, now she sees her only real choice
left to be how she dies. In a few hours time they will be trapped
on the airbase and she and the rest will see themselves as having
to make that choice; to choose the manner of their deaths. They
will see their choice in the terms Lee has outlined - To choose
to die as heroes or as cowards.
So much for the psych tests the New Zealanders did. These guys
are out of it. Their betrayal by Colonel Finley has pushed them
over the edge. They are in just their fourth week in Australia and
up to now have spent only one week outside the safety of Hell (Lee
It does, however, set the scene for one cracker of a novel as Ellie,
Homer, Lee and Fi choose to die as heroes and Kevin becomes a burden
they must carry.
Ellie's confrontation with the officers, the attack on the refueling
tankers, the breakout from the airfield. These hundred pages are
easily the most dramatic action in a series full of dramatic action.
OK, so its very hard to get a fuel
tanker to go bang like that and a single, stock standard 50cal
machine gun on a jeep or a single light flak cannon would have ended
their daylight run across the airfield, but so what? The extra-ordinary
heroism in turn of Homer, then Fi, then Ellie; the solid dependability
of Lee; they sweep you up. The flow of the writing carries you along,
disbelief is suspended and the heart hammers till the escape is
complete. What a blast. Lovely stuff Mr Marsden.
Then the aftermath.
The shear exhilaration at having survived, the thrill of just continuing
to exist, when the very ordinary events and feelings of simply being
alive take on an unnatural clarity. They have done the impossible
twice; first to destroy the airfield where the commandoes failed,
second to survive when survival was not an option.
The agony of having to continue to evade, wrecked and exhausted.
Unable to stop and recover they have to evade for days, cold and
without food. The emotional lifeline of the radio and shear bloody
minded persistence pulls them through, but at a cost.
Escape into Stratton, Emotional exhaustion (the times they just
loose track of what is going on and where they are) takes them one
by one. Homer just seems to blank out, Kevin withdraws into gardening,
Lee's quietly flips out, disconnecting from the reality of their
situation and the dangers involved he can't stop himself getting
involved with the enemy girl nor avoid acting with aggression towards
Ellie. No-one can deal with what happened to Kevin. Emotional detachment,
which has been affecting Ellie and Homer since "The Third
Day, The Frost" really starts to grip Ellie in Stratton.
Her mind tells her things like the ferals are important but she
can't find the will to act decisively, she loses hours at a time
when her mind goes and she sits there sucking her thumb. Then the
crushing of her compassion is completed by Lee's betrayal, but even
in the middle of that betrayal she won't abandon him, won't let
him die alone.
They are a mess.
Only Fi seems reasonably sane. She is greatly effected, the visions
of what happened on the airfield haunt her day and night. During
their stay in Stratton she slips in and out of the extreme "Emotional
Exhaustion / Vegetative" state of Combat Exhaustion, just like
Ellie and Homer. But Fi does not change like the rest. She does
not become as hard and callous as Ellie, she does not jump at the
slightest fright like Kevin, she does not become combative and lose
her ability to assess risk like Lee, she just disconnects a little
more from reality and dreams her dreams of Homer, of caring for
the ferals, of hugging them, feeling them greens and sitting down
to Christmas with all the trimming. She may be small, delicate and
otherworldly but Fiona Maxwell is an impressive young lady, impressively
stable, impressively brave. She trusts Ellie so much she will follow
her to what she sees as certain death. She played her part in the
airfield raid despite being completely unprepared for it. She stays
sane when the others come apart. She cares, she comforts, she supports.
In "Darkness, Be My Friend" she saved Ellie life.
In "The Night is For Hunting" she will save her
soul. Ellie couldn't really ask for a better friend than Fi, whom
Ellie keeps feeling she needs to protect but whom she ends up being
They need a change, something to live for rather than something
to die for. The scene is set for the next novel "The Night
is For Hunting", a novel where the team get to build rather
than just destroy.
also Declan Stylofone's comments
and, of course, Tim
David Beagley also shares his
I found what David had to say quite interesting,
especially since what he considers to be a flaw in the book I tend
to see as a character flaw in Ellie (progressively worse emotional
detachment) - and most of the others - only Fi is not really affected.
It is a problem which has been plain since early in "The
Third Day, The Frost" and comes to a head for Ellie in
"The Night is for Hunting".
Go to the commentary on "The
Night is for Hunting"