Dead of the Night
Book 2 in "The Tomorrow Series" by John
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
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)
another view of this novel, check out Declan Stylofone's comments
for once we seem to be in reasonable agreement
Go to the commentary on "The
Third Day, the Frost"