The Tomorrow When the War Began series by John Marsden (Australian YA)

The Tomorrow When the War Began series by John Marsden was an important part of my childhood reading, and books that I would still recommend to adults and children today.

This series has been a popular success in Australia, and I believe throughout the world. It follows the journey of a group of teenagers who find themselves stranded in the Australian bush after their country has been invaded by another nation. They band together and form their own resistance, fighting the invading force with guerrilla tactics, and going through significant personal change at the same time.

These books were an important part of my adolescence, at least, the first three books were. I read the books over and over again as a teenager.

What makes them so popular? Marsden so accurately portrays the reality of teenage hood - even in a war scenario. The girls talk about boys, the boys talk about girls. They start relationships, struggle through their first sexual experiences and deal with relationship complications. It portrays the difficulties of real friendships like how and when to be honest with one another and how relationships change over time.

Then there are the complications of the war. The teenagers have to grow up fast - seeing death and destruction, some of which they cause themselves. For a teenage book, Marsden gives due consideration to the complicated nature of war. The characters resent their countries invasion and do all within their power to cause damage to the invaders - but they are still able to analyse the situation and acknowledge that their ancestors committed similar acts on the Aboriginal population. They are also able to recognise that the invading population is probably doing so out of over crowing in their own country. Whilst this doesn't make it OK, and they don't justify the invaders actions in any way, it makes for good reading watching these young adults give proper consideration to the war.

Then there is the action - these books are action packed. There are bombs, there are chases, there are stake-outs, there are shoot-outs - it has everything and it keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Originally the series was a trilogy but now it is a series of seven:
  • Tomorrow, When the War Began,
  • The Dead of the Night,
  • The Third Day, The Frost,
  • Darkness, Be My Friend,
  • Burning for Revenge,
  • The Night is for Hunting, and
  • The Other Side of Dawn.
I have only read the first 4, and it is my current mission to read those again and then finish the series. The reason I only read the first 4 books is because the fourth book Darkness, Be My Friend really let me down. It just wasn't as good as the first 3 and that really put me off reading the rest of the series.

Then as I got older I started reading more age appropriate material and somehow never prioritised reading the rest of it.

So this year I have started reading the series again. I have read the first two books and am currently reading the third. Then I will read the rest of it.

After re-reading Tomorrow, When the War Began I was a little bit disappointed. It just wasn't as good reading it as an adult as it was as a young adult. But once I got that little bit of a let down out of my system I really enjoyed The Dead of the Night and I am really enjoying The Third Day, The Frost.

This is a fun and action packed series of books that I recommend to everyone.


What kind of read is this?
These books are young adult, so they are not at all challenging and each can be knocked off very quickly.

Do I recommend these books?
Yes, I do. They are an easy but exciting read.

Do I recommend that you buy these books?
Not unless you are a big YA fan. I have been borrowing them from friends and that's been fine.

Star Rating

6.5 / 8

Brilliant, couldn't put it down. I recommend it. 

I would love to hear what you thought of the series if you have read it? Has anyone seen the film? I wonder if it captures the book very well. 


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