Title: Darkness, Be My Friend
Author: John Marsden
Series: Tomorrow, #4
Format: Paperback, owned
My rating: 4 / 5
Their country ravaged. Their families taken. Their solution - fight.
After the trauma of the invasion and the pain of their tragic losses, Ellie and her friends have finally found sanctuary.
But after five months away, they are called upon to return to the fight.
The gang have got used to feeling safe. They've suffered enough. And Ellie is sick with fear at the thought of returning to combat.
But sometimes there's only one answer: We're going back.
-- As seen on Goodreads
I have this little aversion to buying more than one book in a series at a time. What if I end up with, for example, books two, three and four, but I don’t like one of them? Chances are I’ll dislike the next one just as much. Well, I bought books three and four in the Tomorrow series shortly after I finished the second book and I had such high hopes of loving both of them just as much as I loved the first two. I was so disappointed with book three, The Third Day, The Frost, and I didn’t feel like it lived up to the first two books, and I put off reading Darkness, Be My Friend for over six months! I am so glad I actually gave this book a chance as I really enjoyed it and it exceeded my expectations.
There is a noticeable difference in the atmosphere in comparison to my memories of book three. It focuses more on the psychological and emotional affects that the previous three books have had on the characters. Ellie, our main character and narrator, is more retrospective than she was before. Her narration is sprinkled with reminiscing about life before the war, and it reminds us that these characters are just kids that happened to escape the initial invasion, and still struggle against massive odds for their survival and freedom. They want to be reunited with their families. They want their country back.
If you read the blurb above, you’ll have a pretty good idea that this book will include the friends returning to Australia from New Zealand. They’ve grown up in Wirrawee, and they know the area like the backs of their hands, and in a way, they have been recruited as local guides to quickly and stealthily lead a small group of New Zealand soldiers into the main war zone, who have the task of eliminating the recently established enemy military airport.
For me, one of the things I love most about the Tomorrow series is the bond that has developed between Ellie, Lee, Kevin, Homer and Fee. There was a five month break between events in book three and four, and their bond has grown even stronger in this time. I feel it’s realistically portrayed, and their loyalty to each other – even when they don’t always get along – binds them together no matter what. This series is one of the few Young Adult series I’ve read that talks about love and sex openly and quite honestly. It doesn’t ignore the elephant in the room, and I really think more YA books and series would benefit from taking this example on board.
I like that the series is continuing on with Ellie’s narration – I’d hate a POV switch at this stage. She has changed a lot from who she was in the first book. I felt that I connected with the characters more, and I like Ellie a lot more now than I did previously. I managed to empathise with her and understand the pressures she is under, and the pressure she ultimately puts on herself. Seeing Ellie open up a bit more about life before the war gave her a much needed human side. I had a little issue with her being a bit too distant in the past, and it was so nice to see the less than fearless side to her character open up.
All the characters have lost so much in the war, yet they still manage to stick together and encourage each other to keep going, and fight back. I felt like I was more invested in the story this time. It isn’t as action packed as the previous books, and I guess this could be seen as a negative. But to me, I think the series would have become unrealistic if the same pace of attack was kept up in this book. I enjoyed connecting with the characters in Darkness, Be My Friend, and seeing that things don’t always work out the way we want them to, confirms in my mind just how heart-breaking yet poignantly realistic this series is.