A KILLING FROST by John Marsden


Age Range: 12 - 15
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Marsden offers an unflinching look at living in war-torn Australia in a follow-up to Tomorrow, When the War Began (1995) and The Dead of Night (1997). For Ellie, the tough and likable teenage narrator of the tale, life has become a battle ever since the nameless invading army swept across Australia’s shores, locking her family, her neighbors, her entire town into prison camps, and murdering those who attempted to resist. With her mates, Ellie acts out what may be the ultimate teenage fantasy, living in the woods and blowing up things to thwart the enemy. Marsden presents Ellie’s plight realistically, and so the starvation, sickness, and death that are part of every war are also depicted to maximum dramatic effect. While some adults will shrink from the discussions on making homemade bombs, Marsden’s characters risk their lives to shut down one of the invader’s key sea ports. The group succeeds, but they are subsequently captured and interrogated; they escape, but one of their fellows sacrifices herself with a hand grenade to make that escape possible. The final scene, in which the young guerrillas are celebrated as the war rages on, casts an appropriately ambiguous ending for this exemplary depiction of a true living hell. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-395-83735-9
Page count: 275pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1998


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