Tomorrow, When the War Began is the first of seven of the Tomorrow series. The book is about group of seven Australian teenagers against an enemy whose forces have invaded their country and imprisoned their families. One of the characters, Ellie, tells their story, which begins when they persuade their parents to allow them to take the Landrover for a campout in Hell. This is not quite what it sounds. Hell is a wild place, 'a cauldron of boulders and trees and blackberries and feral dogs and wombats and undergrowth', reputed to have been inhabited by a murderer.
The characters are generally caring friends with just the right shading of teen attitude and romantic involvement. They succeed in discovering a hidden track into Hell, enjoy their days camping, and return to a different world, in which their homes are deserted except for neglected, dying animals, and there is neither electricity nor radio.
Luckily they get cautious before they are caught and, with some close calls, manage to organize a refuge and even to strike back. They are all afraid but they rely on each other. They also think, and argue about, the morality of their own actions.
We are given some stereotypical personalities that make some surprising changes as the story unfolds. There's Ellie, the tomboy who makes the first kill only to discover she's not as hard as she thought. Homer, the class clown who turns into a serious tactician. Fi, the graceful ballerina who finds enough inner strength to inspire the others. Robyn, who seems best able to take what has happened in stride and adjust her way of thinking, Lee the gentle piano player who becomes filled with hatred and hardens in a way that is both sad and brutal. Then there's Corrie who gets shot...