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The Other Side of Dawn: Tomorrow #7    by John Marsden order for
Other Side of Dawn
by John Marsden
Order:  USA  Can
Houghton Mifflin, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Other Side of Dawn is the seventh and final episode in Marsden's acclaimed Tomorrow series, in which a group of Aussie teenagers, almost accidentally, became successful resistance fighters after their country was invaded by Asians. Marsden shows us the grim reality of wartime and doesn't go easy on his young protagonists. Three have died, they've been wounded, imprisoned and abused. They are desperately worried about their families. Earlier, they had the choice of staying on after being airlifted to New Zealand, but decided to return and do what they could for the war effort. In The Night is for Hunting, they were ambushed by a group of feral children in Stratton. After winning their trust with great difficulty, the teens took on the added responsibility of several kids, some of whom died along the way.

As this final episode opens, the resistance fighters consist of Ellie, Homer, Lee, Fiona, Kevin, and the four children, including small, deaf hell-raiser Gavin (who has a strong role this time too). A helicopter arrives from New Zealand. Forewarned by Colonel Finley, they meet it. They help offload boxes and one passenger, Ryan, an SAS officer sent to give them a quick course in guerilla warfare and the use of plastic explosives. The big push, a D-Day equivalent, will happen soon, and Finley wants Ellie's team to do everything in their power to damage and distract the invaders. They agree, on condition that Ryan takes the ferals back with him. On the way back to Hell, they find a patrol abseiling over the edge, take them out, and conclude the area is no longer a secure refuge. Feelings complicate Ellie's already tough challenges. It hurts to send the ferals away, despite knowing they will be in safe hands. And, though Ellie trusts Lee again, and they've resumed their relationship, she finds herself jealous of Homer's close ties with Fiona.

Once Ryan departs, they wait for the signal to go all out, attacking a few motorbike patrols to keep their hands in. This gives time to wonder about life after the war is over, in the unlikely case that they survive - one thing they've learned is that they aren't indestructible. Then, the signal arrives. They attack a major truck stop, doing almost too good a job. Ellie ends up on her own, pursued by enemy soldiers. Despite that, she succeeds in another major act of sabotage, in an exciting crescendo of action, before she's captured. A series of brutal imprisonments and terrifying escapes follows, as the war winds down. All Ellie thinks of now is the fate of friends and family. Marsden ends his saga as he began it - not with trite solutions, but a realistic assessment of what might happen in this situation. As always, Ellie shares with us what she's learned - 'Life's about a hell of a lot more than being happy. It's about feeling the full range of stuff: happiness, sadness, anger, grief, hate. If you try to shut one of those off, you shut them all off ... I want to see it all, know it all, understand it all.'

I highly recommend The Other Side of Dawn to you as an excellent conclusion to a brilliant series about young people tossed into the midst of a war, and trying to do what they can, while worrying about what is right, and about how it's changing them. Don't miss the Tomorrow series.

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