The Tomorrow series is a series of invasion novels written by Australian author John Marsden, detailing a high-intensity invasion and occupation of Australia by a foreign power. The novels are told in first person perspective by the main character, a teenage girl named Ellie Linton, who is part of a small band of teenagers waging a guerrilla war on the enemy garrison in 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 series consists of seven books, published from 1994 to 1999 by Pan Macmillan and has been reprinted sixteen times. A follow up series entitled the "Ellie Chronicles" began publication in 2003 and was completed in 2006. It deals with the aftermath of the war and Ellie's attempts 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 most likely by explicit 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. This was likely Marsden's intention, given that the series focuses on the characters more than the actual war, and is an accurate reflection of how Ellie and her friends are isolated and cut off from outside communication.
Tomorrow, When The War Began and its subsequent sequels are one of the most popular and critically-acclaimed series of novels aimed at young readers in Australian literature history It has been translated into five languages and has sold between 2 and 3 million copies in Australia alone.
Ellie goes out camping in the bush for a week with her friends Homer Yannos, Lee Takkam, Kevin Holmes, Corrie Mackenzie, Robyn Mathers and Fiona Maxwell. 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 town of Wirrawee, they find that all the people are missing and their pets and livestock are dead and dying. Fearing the worst, they break into three groups to investigate Wirrawee's situation. They confirm that Australia (or at least, Wirrawee) has been invaded and local citizens are being held captive by a hostile foreign force. Ellie's group is discovered and, in order to escape, create an improvised explosive using the fuel tank of a ride-on lawnmower in a backyard as a bomb. However, returning to the nearby meeting point, they discover Robyn and Lee missing. Homer and Ellie search for them and they are met by Robyn, and they discover that Lee has been shot in the leg and hiding out in the main street of Wirrawee, the centre of the enemies activity. Ellie and Homer confer with the others and Ellie decides that they should attempt to rescue Lee in a large earth moving bobcat. After a rough truck chase that sees several soldiers run over Lee is successfully rescued and returned to the safety of Hell.
Ellie and Lee get together and form a romantic relationship after a dream that Ellie has, and Fi and Homer also get involved in a romantic relationship. Ellie finds them to be an unlikely couple, and is a bit jealous at first, but towards the end accepts the fact that she has Lee and Fi has Homer. Of course Kevin and Corrie have been in a romantic relationship for a few months before the invasion.
They decide to raid nearby farmhouses, searching for food and other supplies, and then retreat to Hell to establish a base camp for themselves. On the way they discover their friend, Chris Lang, hiding in his home, and he decides to join Ellie's group. The group decides to wage a guerrilla war against the invaders and Ellie, Fi, and Homer steal a petrol tanker, and blow it up under a bridge, destroying the easiest route into Wirrawee (the detour was very slow and complicated). While this is happening Corrie is shot in the back while finding food with Kevin, and Kevin sacrifices his freedom to drive her to an occupied hospital for medical assistance. This leads onto the end of the book which stops there leaving the reader wondering if Corrie will be all right.
Returning to Hell, they explore the surrounding bush further and discover another group of partisans led by Major Harvey, an ex-soldier of the Australian Army Reserve. Although better equipped and more numerous, "Harvey's Heroes" (in reference to Hogan's Heroes, a television series about detained American soldiers in Nazi occupied territory in World War II) prove to be a very incompetent group, and after falling into a carefully laid trap, they are massacred in an ambush. Ellie and her friends escape back to Hell, but find that Chris, the member of their group they left behind to take care of things, has disappeared.
Scouting out nearby farms for food and other supplies, they discover that Australian citizens are being used as slaves by the occupying army, which is moving its own citizens in to live in Australia. They retreat into Wirrawee and discover that the enemy are now using the houses in the wealthiest area of Wirrawee, Turner Street, as a command post for enemy troops. In the process, they are shocked to find that Major Harvey is in fact a traitor.
Using natural gas from the house's ovens, they cause an explosion which destroys Turner Street, hoping partially that it may kill Major Harvey. Returning to Hell via Ellie's property, they discover the days-old body of Chris - he had snuck into town to retrieve alcohol and cigarettes, and while drunk driving back to Hell he flipped his car near a dam and was killed. The group takes his body back to Hell and buries it. This is a very emotional point for Ellie.
With Kevin's knowledge they are able to organise an attack on Cobbler's Bay, a major deep-water harbour in the area, being used by the enemy. They successfully destroy at least one ship and a large part of the wharf using a titanic fertiliser-based bomb, and all manage to escape from the harbour relatively intact.
Thinking that they have done enough, they decide to go up to the Isthmus, a place where a few of them have been camping with their families before, and as they are heading towards the national park they are captured by the enemy and placed in a high security prison being used by the enemy to house "troublesome" Australian citizens. Here they discover that New Zealand has declared outright war on the invaders, but the United States refuses to get involved (although under the ANZUS pact, they are obligated to), fearing another Vietnam situation.
Working at the prison is Major Harvey, the traitor from the last book. He repeatedly tries to convince Ellie that the war is good for Australia, to no avail. Ellie and Homer are eventually sentenced to death while the rest of the group are given sentences varying from 22 to 30 years in jail for their crimes.
Fortunately, the prison is targeted for a bombing raid by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and, amongst the ensuing chaos, Ellie and her friends manage to escape. Major Harvey tries to stop them, but Robyn kills him and herself with a grenade. The rest of the group find aKiwi pilot and convince him to take them to New Zealand.
The SAS troops go missing while on a mission to destroy Wirrawee Airfield (which was being used as a major military airbase), and while searching for them, Ellie's group is spotted and forced to flee. Lee had been guiding the group of New Zealand soldiers, and gets separated from the main group on the night of the planned attack.
Retreating, they decide to take shelter in their old high school rather than going all the way back to Hell, and after reuniting with Lee, he passes on information about their parents to them and tells them his own parents were killed due to them having an argument with a guard at the show ground. This happened in front of Lee's siblings, who are still being held at the show ground, being looked after by other adults still imprisoned and trapped there.
When he passes on this information, he reveals that one of them (Fi) may be able to see her parents, which results in a clandestine reunion between Mr & Mrs Maxwell and their daughter in the botanical gardens fernery not too far from the high school. They can only speak for about twenty minutes- as long as Fi's parents are allowed for their lunch- and Ellie is unsure if the reunion is a good thing or not.
Around the same time, Lee takes Ellie to the local cemetery, where he points out to her Corrie's grave- Corrie had died a few months earlier, presumably while the rest of the group were in New Zealand. Ellie seems to have a minor breakdown, and turns to Lee for comfort.
The group uses a two-pronged attack against the local airfield (which had been the target of the SAS unit), one plan trying to destroy the airfield outright, and another to sabotage the planes by putting sugar in their fuel. However, a combination of ill-planning, over-confidence, and bad luck cause both their plans to fail, and are forced to flee back to Hell.
The group then makes radio contact with Colonel Finley in New Zealand, who tells them that they have no chance of extraction and will have to return to their old life in occupied territory (camping in Hell).
They stage an attack by stealing two trucks, driving them into position, and destroying several fuel trucks by shooting them. The resulting explosions, chain explosions, and fire destroys nearly every plane on the airfield and some of the buildings, dealing a significant blow to the enemy's air force, clearing the skies and creating a crucial bombing opportunity for the New Zealanders.
They make their escape in one of the stolen trucks, and after evading their pursuers, they miraculously slip out of the district by going down to the river, and drifting downstream to the nearby city of Stratton. Here they discover a tribe of feral (and hostile) children (they even dare to mug the group), who have been living on the streets and hiding from enemy troops since the war began.
Ellie also notes that Lee is frequently away from the hide-out within Stratton, and after following him, she is shocked and hurt to see that Lee has established a secret relationship with an enemy teenage girl named Reni (although in book 4, Ellie had cheated on Lee also). The book concludes with Lee falling into a trap designed to bring about his capture, and his subsequent rescue by Ellie. Ellie saves Lee from capture, but she is in no way inclined to forgive Lee and their relationship, both friendly and romantic, really begins to suffer.
To make the kids happy, they decide to celebrate Christmas - which will necessitate a raid on an occupied farmhouse to get supplies. Homer, Ellie, Gavin and Fi are captured but manage to escape (breaking through a car boot and riding a motorbike straight through the farmhouse in the process), and return to Hell to celebrate a happy Christmas. After Christmas, they also establish an informal school, with Lee teaching Arts and Music, Kevin teaching Science, Homer teaching Maths and Ellie and Fi teaching English.
They soon discover, however, that their attack on the airfield made them an ultra-high priority target for occupying forces, and a group of soldiers tracking them near Hell ambushes them. After a comparatively long (compared to other head-to-head encounters with enemy groups) fire fight, the group realises that they are no longer safe in Hell any more, and make contact with New Zealand immediately.
He gives them plastic explosives and after an intensive instruction, tells them to continue their guerrilla attacks. Ellie's group also manages to convince him to take the kids back to New Zealand with him, as they would hinder their movement. Ryan grudgingly agrees, and the kids are loaded onto a helicopter with him in the middle of the night. Gavin, however, refuses to go, and is nowhere in sight until the helicopter leaves. He says he was "lost", and ends up staying with the teenagers.
The group moves off to the town of Cavendish, stopping over in Stratton on the way and injuring/killing several soldiers in motorbike patrols. The group then attacks a petrol station, which serves as a hub for all the convoys passing through, and are separated while fleeing. Ellie jumps on board a train and manages to destroy it and the train tracks with the remaining plastic explosives, but it is packed full of soldiers who pursue her into the bush. She is shot in the leg, and captured.
While in a prison hospital Ellie is told that Lee, Kevin, Homer, and Fi were all killed while trying to escape the petrol station and she despairs, but takes heart in the fact that Gavin's name was not mentioned. She is sent to a POW labor camp, where she uses a false name. Later, her true identity as one of the partisans is revealed, putting her life in danger. She manages to escape however, and heads towards the place she thinks her mum is being held captive. She manages to enter the area her mum is living in during the confusion caused when a radio broadcast reveals the war is over. However the guards say it hasn't been confirmed and everyone is to stay in the flats. Ellie sleeps with her mother who isn't in very good shape for one night. When she wakes the war is over- Australia signed a peace treaty with the occupying power, resulting in the formation of a new nation on the continent (a theme further explored in the Ellie Chronicles).
Ellie's life returns to a semblance of normality on her old farm (which is right on the border with the new nation). Although both her parents survived, she is saddened by the death of her friends. The novel takes an upbeat turn when it is discovered that they had survived, and had been placed in a high security prison along with Gavin, and most of the New Zealand commandos who went missing. Her friends return to their old lives as well, more or less. Lee moves to Stratton with his siblings and takes up an accelerated course, Fi moves to Stratton with her family and Kevin moves to New Zealand to do school talks; Gavin moves in with Ellie on her farm (his single parent believed killed during the war, and the whereabouts of his sister still unknown). Ellie continues her life as a poultry farmer.
Ellie is the brave, strong leader. She has good ideas and she helps the group out a lot with her good driving.
Throughout the series she has an ongoing relationship with Lee, although at the beginning she thinks she has feelings for Homer, which later turns out to be only jealousy of his infatuation with Fi. In book 2, Lee and Ellie have sex for the first time. In book 4 when they are in New Zealand she has a one-night stand with a guy named Adam, although at the time she was severely drunk and still in mourning about Robyn's death (book 3). Ellie also had a long relationship with a guy named Steve, who she dumped before the war began.
A detailed description of her appearance is never given except that she is fairly pale. In The Ellie Chronicles, where she wears a dark wig, she admits that she "always wanted to know what she looked like with dark hair". Whilst mounting horses, Ellie notes that she is the shortest of Homer, Kevin and Fi. Her height nor weight is never specified, but given the work on her farm it is assumed she has a strong build. Another evidence of her being sturdy is when Fi cuts a hole in the fence at the petrol depot. After cutting the hole, she says "We won't get through there." Ellie thinks, "It was clear who she meant by we." The relatively vague description is the case with many of Marsden's characters, both within the Tomorrow series and within many of his other works (See Marsden's other works).
Her character is stubborn, and she rarely backs down in an argument or conflict, especially against Homer, whom she has been competing with since a very early age. The group often looked to Ellie to provide ideas whereas Homer was usually the one who had the energy to carry them out. She moves through several stages as a character and progresses into a harder and less forgiving personality as the series progresses. This deterioration of her emotional state accelerates after the discovery of Corrie's grave.
However, she finds redemption for her soul later in the series by her interactions with a group of "feral" children who are living wild on the streets of Stratton.
Ellie and Corrie talk a lot and whenever Ellie has a problem she will turn to Corrie for support. Such as when Lee talks to Ellie about he and she. Fi is there to talk to but while she has Corrie, all Ellie can think is "I wished Corrie was there, so I could go and talk to her about". While on their camping trip into Hell they talk about the future and plan to travel overseas together after school. "I had this idea that she'd have a look at everything, come home, do nursing, then go back and work in the country that needed nurses most. I admired her for that. I was more interested in making money."
Corrie's determination also should not be under-estimated. When battling to find a way into Hell, Corrie had been one of the leaders: "Finally Corrie said, 'There might be a chance if we wriggle through here. We might be able to get around the side somewhere.' The gap she'd picked was so narrow we had to take our packs off to get through it, but I was game, so I took Corrie's pack while she wrestled her way into a prickly overgrown hole. Her head disappeared, then her back, then her legs. I heard Kevin say, 'This is crazy', then Corrie said, 'OK, now my pack', so I pushed that through after her. Then, leaving Robyn to look after my pack, I followed."
Then talking about traveling overseas and getting permission from parents Corrie says: "Mmm. My dad's not bad. I've been educating him". I smiled. A lot of people underestimated Corrie. She just quietly worked away on people till she got what she wanted."
At the end of the first novel, Corrie was driven to the Wirrawee hospital by her boyfriend Kevin after being shot in the back. Kevin was subsequently captured. Corrie survived for some time in a comatose state, but died.
His appearance is never described totally, but he is "big" and "strong" and of Greek parentage. It is mentioned that Homer has black hair. He was famous in the Wirrawee district prior to the invasion for his pranks and often dangerous antics, many of which Ellie reflects on during the series; however, when the war comes, he reveals himself as a strong leader.
Homer is known as the school prankstar but this all changes when the war starts he changes to become the leader of the group. He helps and encourages the group. The teenagers were very surprised with Homers sudden change in attitude. But Homer knew that he had to start thinking and becoming a leader in order to survive. Homer is smart and intelligent with his ideas and plans.
He guides the group almost single-handedly through the first book and early in the second book. His authority is diminished, however, when the group learns that Homer took a shotgun on one of their guerrilla attacks: the group agreed not to take firearms, as their use was limited and if they were caught with them, they would have been, in Ellie's words, "put against a tree and shot". The incident was a cause of much friction between Homer and Ellie. The ensuing argument between Homer and Ellie was in many ways a true revealer to the characters, not only Homer and Ellie. The diminished respect for Homer does not seem to hurt the group too much however, as Ellie and Robyn are beginning to step up into leadership roles together with Homer.
As the series progresses, however, Homer proves himself again to be an intelligent and integral part of the group.
Homer throughout all of the books has strong feelings towards Fi but takes quite some time before he acts upon them.
Lee (last name never mentioned) is an introverted, part-Thai part Vietnamese Asian Australian. He plays violin and piano, and is very good at visual arts. Ellie makes a point of mentioning that he "is good at pretty much everything, yet he can be an annoying shit if things doesn't go his way". His parents owned an Asian restaurant in Wirrawee before the war and Lee, his parents and his four siblings all lived in the flat above it.
Lee is described as the tallest in the group, and to have, in Ellie's opinion, the nicest eyes in Wirrawee. Lee is Ellie's primary love interest, although their relationship was a highly turbulent one. In the beginning of book 3, all of the main characters suffered psychologically in various ways e.g Robyn became an insomniac and Homer's temper became almost uncontrollable. Lee acquired a nervous twitch and became impotent with Ellie eventually writing that 'And when we made love, even though he said he enjoyed it and he'd start off all excited, his body wouldn't do what he wanted it to do'. Like Ellie, he becomes colder and more violent, starting with his knife murder of an unconscious enemy soldier who was wounded in a fight with Homer and Ellie after chasing Fi. Things get tough for Lee when he learns of his parents' deaths -- this seems to make him more violent than ever. He also seems to find some salvation in the feral kids. In one stage, Lee is found to be going off with a girl from the side of the enemy. Ellie saves his life, after realising it was a plan to trap him. The apparent relationship with the enemy girl causes big cracks to form between Ellie and Lee, they go for a very long time without communicating with each other on a personal level. Not without lack of trying, Lee tries to make it up to Ellie but it is all in vain.
It is interesting to note that of the eight primary characters, only four of them kill directly -- Lee, Ellie, Homer and Robyn. As the series wears on, Lee appears to be beginning to find pleasure or at least some form of satisfaction in the killing of enemy soldiers, which would seem to be as a result of his parents' deaths at their hands. Lee becomes more violent after Ellie pushes him away, and to an extent so does Ellie. It would seem that both needed the other's calming influence to remain psychologically stable. However, their relationship recovers to a certain extent later.
Robyn refuses to fire a gun or kill people directly, which creates uncertainty in Ellie's mind about the morality of what they are doing. After Robyn is handed a gun and she puts it down, during a potentially explosive situation, Ellie writes: "...was she right or wrong? If she was right, that made me wrong."
Robyn dies as a martyr when she sacrifices her life to kill Major Harvey with several grenades, allowing the rest of the group to escape to safety in New Zealand.
She and Homer start a romantic relationship in the first book but it soon cools off as the war intensifies. This is also because Homer is supposedly not into long term relationships. In 'The Other Side of Dawn' however the pair rekindle their relationship.
She is frequently frightened by Homer and Ellie's increasing ambition in selecting targets, however she continues to aspire and do her best to help the group. Unlike Ellie and Lee, she does not become colder or more violent -- she strives not only to be brave but also to be true to herself, thus proving her real worth.
As time goes on and Corrie and Robyn die, and Lee gets lost inside himself, Fi steps in as Ellie's major emotional support. Ellie comes to depend on her very much, just as Fi depends on Ellie in a different way. At the end of "The Third Day, the Frost" when they are recovering in New Zealand, Ellie writes of Fi "Even now I get terrified if she leaves the room for a few seconds and I don't know where she has gone." At the end of book 3, during the air raid on the prison, Fi is hit by debris and gets a scar down her face 'that she'll remember every time she looks in the mirror'.
Again and again, through the rest of the series we see Ellie turn to Fi for support, though none more than at the end of "Burning for Revenge" when Ellie struggles back, seriously injured, from rescuing Lee and again as she sits with the dead child in "The Night is For Hunting". Although during "The Night is For Hunting" Fi tells Ellie that she has "been terrible lately" and that she has "changed so much" and that she "wants the old Ellie back".
His defining trait is that he had some form of nervous breakdown in reaction to the trauma of the war. This was a key plot point for most of the fifth book. After this, there was always an underlying tension between Kevin and the others, especially between Kevin and Ellie, and Kevin and Lee. At the end of the series, he moves to New Zealand.
Kevin is aggressive and big-talking though he backs down often in the face of danger. Like the others, he is angered by the invaders presence in his country and, during a heated exchange about the morality of the invasion and of fighting back, he announces "I hate them...I just hate them and if I had a nuclear bomb I'd drop it right down their throats."
He writes a lot of poetry, some of which Ellie reads. However his detachment from his surroundings placed an emotional barrier between him and the rest of the group. He asks to be left alone in Hell, to which the group agrees. When they return Chris is missing, and later it is discovered that a drunken Chris, attempting to drive into town to loot alcohol, rolled one of the group's utes, and was killed. Ellie often wonders if it was the group's or her fault from leaving him alone and not trying hard to befriend him.
The books are not as well known in North America as they are in Europe, as only the first three books were available in paperback from US publisher Dell. However, in June 2006, major publisher Scholastic announced it had acquired the rights to both the original series and the later "Ellie Chronicles". It has since reissued all seven titles from the original series as well as the first two books in the Ellie Chronicles series.
Marsden's manager, Jill Grinberg, is now reselling the publishing rights in countries where the rights have reverted as well as attempting to sell them into new markets. She has stated that the rights have been sold in Japan to a publisher for a "six-figure deal".
As of March 2008, Esben Storm no longer owns the rights to the Tomorrow Series.
New Tomorrow Series paper calls for low-grade agricultural land to be reclaimed for sustainable development.(A VISION FOR ENGLAND'S FUTURE)(The Land Fetish)(Brief article)
Jun 01, 2005; THE TCPA has published the latest in its Tomorrow Series of discussion papers. The Land Fetish, by TCPA President Professor Sir...