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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.

The Dead of the Night
Book 2 in "The Tomorrow Series" by John Marsden

WARNING: Blows the plot of this novel
Please don't read on if this concerns you

An end of Innocence

At the end of "Tomorrow, When The War Began" Ellie and her friends were striking back against the invader, they had killed in self defence and they had suffered their first losses, but they were still naive, still innocent.

That naivety and innocence ends here, in “The Dead of the Night”. It is burnt away by what they encounter, what they see and what they do.

To understand how much they have changed, look forward into "The Third Day, The Frost" and see just how brutal they can be now (1) and how Kevin – who misses “The Dead of the Night” entirely – now sees his friends (2).

What happened ?

Nellie, Corrie, Buttercup Lane, the massacre of Harvey’s Heroes, the killing of the young soldier, the destruction of Turner Street and the finding of Chris. That’s what happened. Each of those events strikes its own blow, each moves them a step or two along the path towards what they are to become by the end of this book, people who can kill in cold blood, kids who can strangle a man with a belt.

Talking to Nellie shows them how bad the situation really is at the showground. Seeing Corrie and understanding how the enemy have just left her to die introduces Ellie to vile blinding hate, only Lee and fear of reprisals against the patients keeps Ellie from running amok.

Buttercup Lane, Homer killing the two soldiers at point blank range, so close he is covered in their blood. Ellie killing the dying soldier. This is their first taste of how disgusting and confronting infantry combat really is. The blowing up of the convoy itself, the huge explosion that demolishes the whole area, killing everyone aboard the trucks is almost an anti-climax by comparison.

The disappointment of Harvey’s Heroes, the failure of the adults to adjust and adapt shows them they have to rely on themselves. The two massacres that end that episode shows them what they are up against and affect them all, but especially Robyn who watches dozens die from the trees and most of all Lee who lives through the massacre at the camp and the atrocities that follow.

But the worst is to come as they are forced to extremes to survive. The desperate straits that Fi finds herself in that night as she is pursued, the sickening action Ellie takes to protect her friend – smashing in the head of the young soldier with a rock. Their knowledge that to survive they will have to kill this wounded and defenceless boy. The shocking way Lee arrives and casually stabs him to death. The need to dump and conceal the body. Only Robyn’s strength of character holds them together and gets them out.

Having then to come to terms with what Lee has done, which may well have been even more confronting them the act itself.

They decide to strike back. The decide to destroy the enemy HQ and kill as many officers as possible. They are now prepared to kill in cold blood, to deliberately seek to kill certain enemy soldiers rather just destroy the installations they guard (the bridge) or equipment they are operating (the convoy of trucks). This is a major change and the need for it is reinforced when they spot Harvey and understand the treachery he is involved in.

Finally, the contrast between the success of that attack and finding - then taking - Chris’ rotting, 4 week dead, body home to Hell is again crushing, just as it was when they lost Corrie.

This is what happens to them in these pages. It strips them of their innocence, wipes away their naivety. They experience and do terrible things in “The Dead of the Night” and reading the above you would be excused for thinking that this is a fairly depressing novel, but nothing could be further from the truth. The author notes (Marsden on Marsden, p82) that he had intended the novel to have a depressed tone, but he fails.

This is book full of darkness, but there are simply too many uplifting things in these pages for it to be depressing.

How the characters react to the challenges they face; the inner strength each shows at different times. How they care for each other, how they look after and support each other. How each faces their own challenges and is changed by them, but none are broken by them.

Instead of depressing it is inspiring to see the characters find what they need within themselves to respond to what happens; to respond without losing all control and descending into atrocity. The action in this novel is not as flashy as that in “The Third Day, The Frost” or “Burning for Revenge” but the situations are very challenging for the kids who had holidayed in Hell. How they respond is, to me, an attestation to the resilience of the human spirit as they continue to find ways to cope with a world gone mad.

Different to “Tomorrow, When the War Began” but a worthy successor. One of my three favorate novels in the series (the others being. "Darkness, Be My Friend" and "The Other Side of Dawn" - both quite dark in their own way)

For another view of this novel, check out Declan Stylofone's comments
for once we seem to be in reasonable agreement
and Tim Chmielewski's

Go to the commentary on "The Third Day, the Frost"

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