The Night is For Hunting - John Marsden

Our teen heroes are forced to evacuate Stratton with a bunch of feral orphan children when the soldiers get too close. Upon returning to Hell, the children decide to abandon the teens, who now feel responsible for them. After being rescued, they then celebrate Christmas.


The plot doesn’t sound that interesting, but it really is. See, Ellie and Lee rescue the kids at gunpoint and fly out of Stratton with the other teens in a stolen truck. Upon abandoning the truck, it’s found one of the children has broken her arm. The teens force the kids to walk to tailor’s Stitch where they promptly lose them. During the hunt, which lasts several day, the teens lose one of the children to exposure but manage to save the other four.


Since it’s summer, Ellie and Fi decide to celebrate Christmas, so Ellie, Homer and Fi go out for a lamb and supplies at a nearby farmhouse, which just happens to be occupied by enemy soldiers. One of the children is captured as well, and after a daring escape the group manage to make it back to Hell to celebrate Christmas.


You really feel the tension in this novel. I don’t really understand why Ellie and others felt so responsible for the children, especially since after they saved their lives and fed them they just abandoned them. I would have gone, “Fuck it, let them wander off into the bush and die!” But then again, I haven’t lived in a war zone, so I have no idea what kind of empathy and other emotions the teens felt towards the kids. The book is basically about babysitting the ragamuffins and showing the horror of war on children even younger than our guerrilla group.


But you really feel like they’re on edge because the enemy is desperate to find them after the airfield attack, and traipsing around the farmlands around Hell looking for food to feed five hungry teens and four orphan feral children is getting really dangerous. There’s a group of camping soldiers out looking for them which ends in a spectacularly awesome gun battle.


It ends on a cliffhanger, which is probably a really good idea because the next book is the final in the series.