Tomorrow series

Tomorrow series
The Tomorrow Series  
Tomorrow When The War Began Front Cover.JPG
Tomorrow When The War Began
front cover
Author(s) John Marsden
Country Australia
Language English
Genre(s) Action, Adventure novel
Publisher Pan Macmillan (Australia)
Publication date 1993-06 (Australia)
1993-99 (Europe)
1995-2009 (USA)
Media type Print (Hardcover & Paperback)
Pages 7 books on average 280 pages each

The Tomorrow series is a series of seven young adult invasion novels written by Australian writer John Marsden, detailing a high-intensity invasion and occupation of Australia by a foreign power. The novels are related from the first person perspective by Ellie Linton, a teenage girl, who is part of a small band of teenagers waging a guerrilla war on the enemy soldiers in the region around their fictional home town of Wirrawee. The name of the series is derived from the title of the first book, Tomorrow, When The War Began.

The books in the series were originally published from 1993–99, by Pan Macmillan and have been reprinted sixteen times. A sequel series, The Ellie Chronicles, was later published from 2003-06. The follow-up series concerns itself largely with the attempts of society and the protagonist to regain a normal level of functioning in the face of the psychological damage sustained during the war.

The invading nation is never specified in the books; in fact, no nation in the world meets the criteria laid out in the series,[1] most likely by deliberate intent of the author. Likewise, no parts of the war outside Ellie's immediate perspective are covered; the reader is not informed exactly how much of the country is under enemy control, or how well the war is going for the Australian military.

Tomorrow, When The War Began and its sequels are one of the most popular and critically acclaimed series of novels aimed at young readers in Australian literature history.[2] It has sold over 3 million copies in Australia and has been translated into five languages.[2][3] In 2000 the American Library Association listed the first book in the series as one of the 100 best books for teenage readers published between 1966 and 2000.[4]


Books and plot

List of books in the series

  • Tomorrow, When the War Began (1993)
  • The Dead of the Night (1994)
  • Third Day, The Frost (1995) (published in America as "A Killing Frost")
  • Darkness, be my Friend (1996)
  • Burning for Revenge (1997)
  • The Night is for Hunting (1998)
  • The Other Side of Dawn (1999)

Plot summary

Ellie Linton goes out camping in the bush for a week with her friends Homer, Lee, Kevin , Corrie, Robyn and Fiona. They find a way into a large, vegetated sinkhole in a remote area of bush the locals have dubbed "Hell", and camp there for the week. During this time they see large numbers of planes flying through the night without lights, and though it is mentioned in conversation the following morning, they think little of it.

When they return to their home they find that all the people are missing and their pets and livestock are dead or dying. They come to realize that Australia has been invaded and their family and friends have been taken prisoner. Avoiding capture by enemy soldiers, the group return to Hell and after short period of recovery start making plans to fight back.

Over the course of the first three books in the series, the group succeeds in destroying a bridge that leads into Wirrawee, an enemy convoy; several houses are being used by the enemy as a center of operations and a nearby strategic harbor. The surviving members of the group are eventually captured and placed in a high security prison. During an air-raid by the Royal New Zealand Air Force the group escapes, but loses yet another member while doing so. The group encounter a downed RNZAF pilot and arrange to be evacuated to New Zealand.

Book four, Darkness, Be My Friend, takes place several months later. The group is trying to live a normal life in New Zealand with other refugees, but are haunted by the war (which is still ongoing). They are approached by the New Zealand Defence Force, who are seeking Australian guerrillas to act as guides for saboteur units that are being dropped into occupied Australian territory. The group returns to Wirrawee, their hometown, accompanied by a platoon of New Zealand troops.

The soldiers that are sent back along with them go missing while on a mission to destroy Wirrawee Airfield (which is being used as a major military airbase). Alone behind enemy lines once more the group decided to attack Airfield themselves. They fail and return, depressed, to Hell.

Soon after, through sheer luck, the group find themselves perfectly positioned to attempt another attack on the Airfield. This time they succeed, and manage to destroy a majority of planes on the airfield. After the attack, the group find their way to the nearby city of Stratton. In Stratton they discover a tribe of feral (and hostile) children, who have been living on the streets and hiding from enemy troops since the war began.

The group rescue five of the children from being captured by enemy patrol, and escape back to Hell. For a time the group looks after the children. During this time strained relationships are mended and the soul destroying effects of the war are tempered by a chance to do something positive. However, this period does not last. A patrol ambushes the group near their base and after defeating their attackers in a prolonged firefight, the group realizes that they are no longer safe in Hell, and make contact with New Zealand immediately.

They discover that the war is entering its final days and that groups of partisans like themselves are being asked to cause as much chaos behind enemy lines as possible while New Zealand and its allies launch an all out offensive. The group arranges for the feral children to be evacuated to New Zealand and are provided with plastic explosives to carry out their task.

The group attacks a service station frequented by enemy convoys and are separated in the aftermath. Ellie is shot in the leg and taken prisoner. While interned she discovers the location of her mother and father. She escapes, and is reunited with her mother whom she stays with her until news breaks that the war is over - Australia signed a peace treaty with the occupying power, resulting in the formation of a new nation on the continent for the invading forces and settlers.

It transpires that Wirrawee is on the Australian side of the border. Ellie, her mother and her father return to their farm, and like all the other survivor’s of the war, begin picking up the pieces of their lives.

The Ellie Chronicles

Following on from the Tomorrow series, these three books continue Ellie's story after the war.

  • While I Live (2003)
  • Incurable (2005)
  • Circle of Flight (2006)

The three books detail Ellie's struggles in post-war life in Wirrawee. Ellie finds herself running the family farm after the murder of her parents, and dealing with Gavin, the deaf boy she rescued during the war. Shortly after the death of her parents, Ellie faces bankruptcy and turns to Homer's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Yannos, for help. In addition, a youth group called Liberation, headed by the mysterious 'Scarlet Pimple' (a play of words on "The Scarlet Pimpernel"), are conducting secret border raids against the new nation.


The group

Ellie Linton
The main protagonist and narrator of the series. Ellie was born and raised on a cattle and sheep farm not far from the edge of the country town of Wirrawee. She is loyal to her friends, to her family, she loves the Australian bush and the life on the land. Ellie prides herself on being the strongest member (and therefore one of the leaders) of the group. Nevertheless, she is often scared and uncertain of her actions and tries to hide these, what she perceives to be, moments of weakness from her friends.
Corrie Mackenzie
Ellie's best friend since childhood. It was Corrie who first suggested going on a camping trip into Hell. Corrie was shot and mortally wounded at the end of the first book. Corrie's death effects the group deeply, especially Ellie who eventually comes to terms with the loss in book four, Darkness, Be My Friend.
Homer Yannos
Ellie's neighbour and close friend. Homer is forceful and domineering and has trouble dealing with other strong personalities. He has known Ellie since childhood and the two have a very close brother/sister relationship. Prior to the war Homer appeared to be a wild and irresponsible boy. The war reveals him to be a strong leader. However, on occasions where he is not in control Homer reverts back to his immature ways. But as the war progresses he gradually relies on Ellie to get the group to safety.
Fiona Maxwell
Commonly referred to as 'Fi' by the group, she had a sheltered upbringing before the war. Fi was shown early on to be the least physically capable of the group. Despite this Fi manages to find the courage within herself to complete the tasks she has been set, though she rarely takes an active role in planning the group's attacks. Fi becomes Ellie's confidante after Corrie's death and acts as the most rational member of the group after Robyn. She develops a slow romance with the wild Homer.
Prior to the war Lee was a studious, somewhat lonely boy. During the war Lee demonstrated an aptitude for violence as well as a tendency to act impulsively and a strong desire for vengeance, especially after finding out his parents were killed. During the series he develops an on-and-off again relationship with Ellie
Robyn Mathers
A friend of Ellie and Corrie's with strongly held religious beliefs. Robyn is calm under pressure and is a capable leader. She regards herself as a pacifist and refuses to participate in any activities where she will be required to directly take a life. Despite this she is convinced that what the group is doing is right and seems to enjoy the adrenalin rush that being in dangerous situations gives her.
Kevin Holmes
Corrie's boyfriend, Kevin fancies himself a tough guy but is shown to have difficulty handling high pressure situations. Kevin is separated from the group at the end of book one, Tomorrow, When the War Began. When he is reunited with them again near the beginning of book three, Third Day, The Frost he is shocked to see how brutal the war has made his friends.
Chris Lang
Prior to the war Chris was an introverted, but well liked boy. Chris was one of the few not taken prisoner when enemy forces seized Wirrawee. The group encounter him soon after returning from Hell and he decides to join with them. Although regarded as a genius by all of his friends, Chris is unable to apply that genius to the group's current situation. As the war wears on he withdraws more and more into his own head, into his world of illicit substances, depression and poetry.


Major Harvey
A former school deputy principal who was once in the Army Reserves, Harvey is introduced as the leader of Harvey’s Heroes, a group of adult partisans. It is later revealed that Harvey was working with the invaders and that the Harvey’s Heroes organisation was established to deliver would be resistance fighters into the hands of the invaders.
Colonel Finley
An officer of the New Zealand Army Intelligence division. Finley supervised the group's recovery and well-being during their time in New Zealand, and later becomes their de facto commanding officer when the group returned to Wirrawee.
A young deaf boy who was part of a gang of war orphans, led by dictatorial boy called Aldo, living in Stratton since the war began. Of the children the group rescue only Gavin had occupied a position amongst Aldo’s inner circle. Being used to a position of power Gavin immediately establishes himself as the leader of the children. He initially doesn't trust Ellie and her friends but soon comes to feel affection and respect for them.


Upon publication, the series was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews. Critic's praised the series for its insightful look at a wide range of issues and suspense filled narrative.The Age proclaimed the series "the best series for Australian teens of all time..."[5] and said "like ancient myths the stories confront the purpose of life, death, betrayal, killing, love, hate, revenge, selfishness, sacrifice and... faith".[6] The Horn Book Magazine said that "Marsden's story is riveting... Thoughtful explorations of the nature of fear, bravery and violence add depth and balance to the edge-of-the-seat-action and intense first person narration".[7] Georges T. Doods from Sci-fi Site described the series as "An elevation of adventure literature to heights that are only achieved once or twice in a generation."[8] Gregory Maguire of the New York Times found the series to be "intense" and "compulsively readable", but criticized it for its episodic structure.[9]

With the exception of Tomorrow, When the War Began and The Night is for Hunting every book in the series was listed by the Children's Book Council of Australia as notable title for older readers for its respective year of publication.[10] The novel is recommended by the New South Wales Board of Studies as a text to be studied in English classes during Stage 5 (Grades 9 and 10).[11]

The series has also received accolades from outside Australia. In 1996 the American Library Association named Tomorrow, When the War Began as one of the best young adult titles published in America during that year.[12] In 2000 the same organization listed the book as one of the 100 best books for teenage readers published between 1966 and 2000.[4] In 1999 the third book in the series, Third Day, The Frost won the Buxtehude Bull, a prestigious German prize for young adult literature.[13] In 2000, the Swedish Government paid to have Tomorrow, When the War Began distributed to every child of appropriate age in the country after it was selected by their peers as the book reluctant readers would be most likely to enjoy.[14]

List of awards and nominations received by the Tomorrow series

Title Year Notes
Tomorrow, When the War Began 1993
  • Winner, Australian Multicultural Children's Book Award 1994[15]
  • Selected, American Library Association list of Best Books for Young Adults 1996[16][17]
  • Selected, American Library Association list of 100 Best Books for Teens 1966-2000[18]
  • Selected, American Library Association list of Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults 1998, Nominated 2011[19][20]
  • Winner, Fanfare Horn Book Best Book 1996[16]
  • Winner, Children's Yearly Best-Ever Reads (CYBER) Best Book for Older Readers 2000, 2001, 2002[15][21]
  • Selected, Whitcoulls top 100 books, 2008 (No. 63)[16]
  • Selected, COOL Awards (Canberra's Own Outstanding List) 1995[16]
  • Winner, KOALA (Kids Own Australian Literature Awards) 1995[15][16]
  • Winner, YABBA (Young Australian Best Book Award) 1995[15][16]
  • Winner, WAYRBA (West Australian Young Readers' Books Award) 1995[15]
  • Winner, BILBY Awards (Books I Love Best Yearly) 1998[15][16]
  • Nominated, South Carolina Book Award 1998[22]
  • Winner, New South Wales Talking Book Award[15]
The Dead of the Night 1994
Third Day, The Frost 1995
Darkness, be my Friend 1996
Burning for Revenge 1997
The Night is for Hunting 1998
The Other Side of Dawn 1999
The Ellie Chronicles
While I Live 2003
Incurable 2005
Circle of Flight 2006


In June 2009, Screen Australia announced that it would fund the development of the feature film Tomorrow, When the War Began, written and directed by screenwriter Stuart Beattie (Australia, Collateral, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), and produced by Andrew Mason for Ambience Entertainment, reportedly to begin production in late 2009.[31][32][33] Raymond Terrace in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, was chosen as a major location for producing the film.[34] The film was released in Australian cinemas on 2 September 2010. Reception for the movie was mixed. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 64% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 44 reviews, with an average score of 5.5/10 with reveiwers frequently citing a poor script and poor acting as flaws.[35] Despite earning over $13.5 million at the Australian box office, the film "failed to find an international audience" [36]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b 6 August 2008 Tomorrow Series Relaunched for Today’s Readers
  3. ^ Bibliographer Researches Australian Children’s Books National Library of Australia ISSN 1039-3498, no. 58, August 2002
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ September 2011
  6. ^,+death,+betrayal,+killing+darkness+be+my+friend&source=bl&ots=-G5cPs6aAm&sig=knsXVrcTTlvASj2zbNTw9Jv2tp0&hl=en&ei=cpB5TrirEuajiAe5t7kw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Like%20ancient%20myths%20the%20stories%20confront%20the%20purpose%20of%20life%2C%20death%2C%20betrayal%2C%20killing%20darkness%20be%20my%20friend&f=false%7Caccessdate=21 September 2011
  7. ^ Knoth, Maeve Visser. "The Dead of Night". Horn Book Magazine. ISSN 0018-5078. 
  8. ^ Dodds, George T. (1998). "The Tomorrow Series, Part 2". 
  9. ^ September 2011
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Fiction, Film and other Texts: A support document for the English Years 7–10 Syllabus". Board of Studies. p. 25. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "John Marsden Australia Author Biography and Booklist". The Bookshelf of Oz. Retrieved 19 October 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Marsden, John 1950- - Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series". Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g "Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden". Library Thing. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  17. ^ "ALA 1996 Best Books for Young Adults". Young Adult Library Services Association. 1996. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  18. ^ "AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION'S 100 BEST BOOKS FOR TEENS". Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  19. ^ "ALA 1998 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults". Young Adult Library Services Association. 1998. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  20. ^ "ALA Nominations". American Library Association Young Adult Library Services Association. 18 October 2010. Retrieved 21 October 2010. 
  21. ^ "Australian Children's Choice Awards". CMIS. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  22. ^ "Tomorrow When The War Began". Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  23. ^ a b c d e "Authors and Illustrators - M". CMIS. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  24. ^ "The Dead of the Night by John Marsden". Library Thing. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  25. ^ "The Books Tomorrow-Movies - The #1 Fansite for John Marsden's 'Tomorrow, When The War Began', the Tomorrow Series and the upcoming Tomorrow Movies". Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c "TripAtlas - About Tomorrow Series". TripAtlas. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  27. ^ "The Third Day, The Frost by John Marsden". Library Thing. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  28. ^ "The Nielsen BookData Booksellers Choice Award". Australian Booksellers Association. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  29. ^ "The Night is for Hunting (The Tomorrow Series #6) by John Marsden". Library Thing. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  30. ^ "notables04pb". The Children's Book Council of Australia. Retrieved 20 October 2010. 
  31. ^ "John Marsden book to be made into film". Nine News. 22 July 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  32. ^ "Stuart Beattie looks to 'Tomorrow'". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 June 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009. [dead link]
  33. ^ "Screen Australia announces funding for five features including Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos and Tomorrow When the War Began". Screen Australia. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009. 
  34. ^ "Terrace on centre stage". Port Stephens Examiner. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 16 October 2009. 
  35. ^ "Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  36. ^

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