I originally read this series when I was in school. Nearly 20 years after it was first published there was a film version, which for the record, a lot of people hated.
I freaking loved it.
Maybe because I was living overseas at the time and I was pretty excited about an Aussie action film based on one of my favourite childhood books.
Maybe because it was quite a good adaptation that identified and then improved upon the characteristics of the main characters. Maybe it was because there was less romance (and NO angsting over two guys at once!). Maybe it was because Robyn was cast as this tiny ultra-religious girl who ended up being a BAMF. Maybe it was because they changed the ending to include everyone, so the climax was spectacular. Maybe it was because a few of the interesting things that happen in the novel actually happen off-page, and in a film medium it’s easier to portray.
Maybe because it was a really good, faithful adaptation. I wouldn’t say the film was better than the book, but it’s just as good once you take into account that they’re different mediums and they work in different ways. Don’t be a hater.
There’s so much to work with. The group of teenagers who go camping over the Australia Day long weekend (Commemoration Day, in this version, but it’s definitely Australia Day because it’s just after Christmas and before school goes back so like, yay summer and everything) return home to find their country has been invaded by an unidentified army who wants to partake in all of her natural resources and most importantly, room, and decide to start fighting back using guerrilla tactics mostly based off their bush skills.
And it works, because most of the kids are rural and know how to drive, shoot, hunt, trap, repair, and basically survive in the bush. They’re almost adults, and being kids with big farming responsibilities already help them adjust quickly to no parental supervision.
And yes, you might find some comparisons, whether fortunate or detrimental, to The Hunger Games because it’s a life-or-death situation and the main characters are teenagers who have to deal with killing other people to survive, but they’re vastly different novels. One’s about killing for entertainment and glory. The other is about actual survival in a war zone.
The descriptions of the Australian bush are really good. I mean, I read this during the summertime so I was keenly aware of how hot it can get and how lovely it can be in the shade or dipping your toes into a creek. But the descriptions are clearly a love letter to a beautiful country and it really helps the setting, which obviously plays a huge part in the story, to come to life.
And the character growth in the novel is phenomenal, because gentle, sheltered Fi finds her courage, and the local teenage delinquent Homer actually shows he’s a natural leader in a crisis and big macho man Kevin displays horrible moments of panic and cowardice. But they’re all still kids, and they’re not trained for war, and they fuck up and learn from their mistakes.
I would definitely recommend this to any Young Adult book reader. In fact, I’m having a giveaway right now to celebrate Australia Day and the anniversary of the fictional invasion. Why don’t you enter and take the chance to win this wonderful novel?