KLIATT - Claire Rosser
First published in Australia, this suspenseful series was reviewed extensively in KLIATT when released in the US in hardcover editions and also as audiobooks. Now, the volumes are available as trade paperbacks, and this is the chance for all YA libraries to get copies. The basic plot of the series is that a group of high school friends in Australia are away on a camping trip when their country is attacked and terrorized by an unnamed enemy. They become an insurgency group, doing whatever they can do to make things difficult for the occupying forces. Their parents and families have been placed in concentration camps, demoralized. The teenagers, making use of their intimate knowledge of their own hometown, stage raids and then retreat to the outback to regroup. The narrator is Ellie, who is filled with rage sometimes and remorse at other times. She is a realist, knowing that they have to do what they are doing if they expect to get their homeland back. All kinds of moral issues are raised. Also compelling are their feelings about each another. This represents the best of YA literatureexciting, honest, gripping. (Look for the final two books in the series to be released shortlythere are seven in all.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The fourth volume of Marsden's saga of teenage survival and defense of their homeland during war continues the tale at its customary breakneck pace. In the previous books, Ellie and her continually dwindling troop of friends arrived home from a week's camping in the bush to discover that their small town-and, seemingly, all of Australia-has been overtaken by an unnamed enemy army. This latest volume takes up the tale as Ellie and her four remaining buddies leave the safety of New Zealand to return to their old campsite, planning to infiltrate the enemy-held town of Wirrawee under the protection of New Zealand soldiers. The soldiers soon disappear, however, leaving the teens once again on their own. In this middle book of the tale-which runs to seven titles in Australia-the teens learn the fates of their families and manage to survive without further losses. There are hair-raising adventures aplenty, including a break-in at the general store that goes awry, as well as Ellie's unintentional mortal dispatch of an enemy officer. As with previous titles, the ending leaves readers hanging in wait for the succeeding books. The adventures here are finely wrought and enough new background detail is supplied to keep loyal followers of the series engaged in the characters' development. However, this isn't a story to approach midstream. It needs to be read from the beginning, and teens will want to continue once they have done that, for Marsden's style is as surefooted as his independent band of teens.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher
The fourth in the series that includes Tomorrow, When the War Began (1995), this sequel to A Killing Frost (1998) has Ellie, Fi, and their other teenage combat companions being pulled from a safe refuge in New Zealand and returning to their hometown in Australia for another perilous mission. Consistently intriguing and only occasionally gruesome, the battles they face develop credibly and include enough surprises to keep readers turning the pages. With a tone that suggests a natural maturity and shades of cynicism resulting from her hardships, Ellie is a solid narrator whose no-nonsense approach to love, war, and friendship makes her an unusual and impressive female protagonist. A personalized war novel that is apocalyptic yet open-ended enough for another sequel, Darkness benefits from not being limited to fitting into any one genre, but satisfactorily including aspects of several.
April 1, 1999 Booklist, ALA
"Fans of this powerful series will not look forward to an early armistice." (The Bulletin) The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"This fourth book about a group of Australian teenagers fighting for survival following an enemy takeover of their country contains as much riveting suspense and cliffhanger chapter endings as the first three. A highly unlikely opening and premise is, ironically, followed by a string of events that are more realistic than those in previous books." Horn Book
Like John Marsden's other books, this story is immersed in darkness and dread. It's packed with almost unbearable suspense and breathtaking action, as the personalities and relationships of these decent country kids are eroded by the imperative for violence. Marsden fans will elbow each other aside for a copy of this one, and will look forward to the three new installments on the way.
"Marsden's style is as surefooted as his independent band of teens." School Library Journal