'When Ellie and her friends return from a camping trip in the Australian bush, they find things hideously wrong — their families are gone. Gradually they begin to comprehend that their country has been invaded and everyone in their town has been taken prisoner. As the reality of the situation hits them, they must make a decision — run and hide, give themselves up and be with their families, or fight back.'
I've been meaning to read this book for a while, and I feel ashamed to say that I first heard about it after watching the 2010 film based on the novel. Thankfully I couldn't remember much of the film, and so I was reading with an open mind.
The story follows seven Australian teenagers as they go on a camping trip in a beautiful, uninhabited place called Hell, and return home to find that while they were away their town has been invaded. There's some great, atmospheric scenes at this point, and I think it might be the place in the novel where I felt the most anxious for them. The story is told from the point of view of Ellie, and unfortunately I didn't engage with her too well, finding other people in their little group more interesting. I found her more interesting until the romance began, where Ellie is conflicted over her feelings between two different boys. I found this dull (although I'm not a fan of novels with love triangles, in general), and it was during these times that I was wondering what everyone else was up to. Thankfully these scenes were never that long, but it's what made me decide to rate this book as a 3 rather than a 4.
Despite this, there were some engaging characters (such as Robyn, who I grew to love and I'm definitely putting her into the Strong Females category here at Wendigo) and the novel kept my attention pretty much throughout. I think the reactions of the teenagers to the war, and the teenagers themselves, were very realistic, and even the characters we didn't know a lot about didn't feel flat. The entire premise - Australia being overtaken in just a few days - isn't entirely plausible, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I would have liked to know more about the war, about why exactly Australia was invaded, and who was invading, but I'm hoping that will be covered in following books in the series, and I'm intrigued enough to read them in the future.