Tomorrow Home

Samples of the Writing

The Books

The Characters

Things to Explore


Find the books


About this site


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 Third Day, The Frost
Book 3 in "The Tomorrow Series" by John Marsden

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

Triumph and disaster

At the start of "The Third Day, the Frost" all the characters, bar Fi, are emotionally devastated by what they saw and did in "The Dead of the Night" but this is nothing compared to what happens to them by the end of this book. By the end of "The Third Day, The Frost" Fi and all the other survivors are physically safe but crushed - emotionally, physically and mentally - by the experiences they have undergone in these few hundred pages.

Yet before that they find the strength within themselves to accept the events of "The Dead of the Night" and again act. This time picking a target with such precision and moving against it with such cunning that they change the course of the war and elevate themselves to public enemy number one.

As they journey to reconnoitre Cobbler's Bay they have cope with the implications, both emotional and physical, of their land being overrun by colonists and learn to hide from everything. When they rescue Kevin and see his reaction to their co-ordinated, gruesome strangling of the enemy soldier they to face how much they have been changed by what happened in "The Dead of the Night". They have to face the fact they are losing the war and find the courage to continue. They have to face their fear, their terror, at the huge leap in what they are attempting.

The journey to Cobblers is tense, but along the way Robyn again shows her resolution, Ellie the shear power of her will and Homer how much he cares. There really is a lot to admire in these (fictional) children from Wirrawee.

The preparations for the attack are nicely done. The way that they identify and overcome obstruction after obstruction. Ellie's terror at what they are attempting, which grows as each obstacle is to attempting the attack is defeated. The confrontation between Ellie and Fi about how wise the attack is. How would Fi's breezy confidence about the risks Ellie was running come back to haunt her when Homer returned without Ellie and she is still missing as night falls? The way pride forces them to act when they get into the container. Ellie wanting emotional support but not wanting to look less cool than Homer. I'll bet you dollars to sand that Homer was feeling exactly the same about not looking any less cool than Ellie, the one who never looks scared. (See Fi's comment, p169, "The Dead of the Night")

The attack itself. The way the wait in darkness nibbles away at their courage. How both Ellie and Homer are terrified but neither will say it. How they comfort each other without either having to admit how they feel. How they talk while they wait and find that what they dream of has become so simple now. How they forgot to bringing water with them into the steel shipping container on what turns out to be a nice sunny winter day.

The evasion afterwards. The escape across the deck, with Ellie saving them both again. The pursuit through the water, with shear bloody minded determination getting Ellie through. The escape from the Helicopter and hiding in the bush. The poignant memories of home and her lost life that posses Ellie through the night. Ellie's reaction to seeing what they have achieved. The shock of the confrontation with the soldiers, the powerful way that is written - even if John Marsden can't tell the difference between a automatic pistol and a revolver - and the decisiveness of Ellie as she puts her life on the line again to save her friends. Follow this with Ellie's heroic driving - the best driver never to have a licence, you have to smile at what she gets up to - and how Robyn takes care of her. Lovely

Hiding. How Ellie is so totally wiped out she can't even stand when they are in the wreckers due to the emotional toll of what she had done. It is probably only 30 minutes, certainly no more than an hour since she killed three people in as many seconds. The imagery in the wreckers is so dark that I thought it was night time but going back and checking it is about midday, it is her feelings that are so black. The excitement and then crushing disappointment of their contact with New Zealand. How Homer fades into the background and Ellie slowly comes to realise that there is something terribly wrong with him; that the time in the container, the escape through the water and the three soldiers after have broken something in him, that he is real trouble. But then she can't act on that knowledge as events overtake them. How Fi takes charge, recognises the problems they are having, proposes a break and comes up with a plan to get them there. This is the first and the last time Fi asserts herself like this, rather understandable since the flaws in her plan lead directly to their capture, their imprisonment and the death of Robyn. From then on she insists others take the moral risks of planning - even to the point of giving Ellie the right to decide if she lives or dies in "Burning for Revenge".

The prison, Harvey. The team may be great in the field but they are pathetic with a cover story. What cover story ? They haven't discussed it at all. Who is Kevin supposed to be ? Where are they supposed to be hiding out ? What are their names ? OK, Harvey is involved and so they are gone, but even if it had been someone else, blind Freddie with a stick could have knocked their story apart in a few minutes. Ellie is very lucky she is not required to spin a good line again until Judy in Camp 23 (when she fails dismally once more). I did love the "Banana's in Pajamas" episode though.

The escape. I can be a bit flippant about the teams preparation of a cover story and the prison, but I can't be flippant about Robyn. In a world which, as I write (Feb 2003), is consumed by suicide bombers filled with hate and buttressed by a promise of paradise; this passage moved me to tears, something no novel has done is years. Technically it is very well written, emotionally it was like getting punched in the face. It is certainly the most powerful scene in the series. Here Robyn choses a course of action that is guaranteed to end in her death as a means of giving her friends a chance to survive. She choses to die so that the people she loved could live for at least a few minutes more. Could you imaging doing that ? Could you imagine pulling the pin on a grenade and listen to the hissing fuse as you counting down the remaining seven seconds of your life, knowing that all you have to do is toss it away and you are safe, but find the strength in your love of your friends to not do so? I can't. You have to respect Robyn Mathers and the love she had for her friends.

A lovely piece of writing about some very human heroes.

See here for Thomas Myer's excellent review

For another view of this novel, check out Declan Stylofone's comments
Interesting what different people see as important. I, for example, see "Darkness" as the key breakpoint for Lee, where he goes from being willing to kill with his hands, to wanting to do so; a very major change. Here, for me, he is still sane. Hurt, but sane. That all changes in the next novel.
and, of course, there is Tim Chmielewski's view as well.

Go to the commentary on "Darkness, Be My Friend"

Got something to say ? You can contact me at: