cover image The Dead of Night

The Dead of Night

John Marsden. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $16 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-395-83734-4

This action-filled sequel to the Australian import Tomorrow, When the War Began picks up just where its predecessor left off-and the reader will need to do likewise; for the uninitiated, the background may unfold too slowly. In conversational tones larded with Aussie slang (a glossary is included), Ellie, the narrator of Tomorrow, recounts the further adventures of her group of friends, who previously returned from a camping trip in the bush to discover that an unnamed foreign army had invaded the country, imprisoning all of the locals and laying sinister plans for the future. Ellie and friends here persevere in their attempts at guerrilla warfare against the occupying forces. Romantic relationships continue to develop, and perils of many kinds persist. In a subplot that promises to fuel still another book, the teens briefly hook up with a group of adults who have also managed to elude the enemy, but the adults' leader turns out to be as villainous as the invaders. While Marsden's writing is as taut as ever, the excitement of the original premise wears off in this installment, replaced by a less satisfying emphasis on the teens' maneuvers. Though it's still a superior adventure tale, it lacks the provocative edge and hard-hitting moral challenges of the author's very best work. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)