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This website is dedicated to the memory of Jessica Lincoln Smith, a John Marsden fan.
Lost tragically at 26, but never to be forgotten.

Burning For Revenge
Book 5 in "The Tomorrow series" by John Marsden

WARNING: Blows 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 two weeks).

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 protected by.

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.

See also Declan Stylofone's comments
and, of course, Tim Chmielewski's
David Beagley also shares his thoughts

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"

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