Size Doesn’t Matter (89): Tomorrow, When the War Began; June

Size Doesn’t Matter (89): Tomorrow, When the War Began; JuneTomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden
Series: Tomorrow #1
Published by Quercus on March 1, 2011
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 284
Format: Paperback
Source: Gifted
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Australia has been invaded and nothing is as it was. Seven teenagers are camping in a remote area of the Bush and when they return home everything has changed: their families are missing and their animals are dead.

Here’s a perfect example of why it’s a dangerous proposition to reread old favorites. I originally read Tomorrow, When the War Began during grad school for a paper I wrote on dystopian fiction where I needed examples of the genre from several decades. Compared to the other books I read, Tomorrow, When the War Began was one of my favorites. I remember massively shipping it. But yeah, um, with my additional knowledge of the genre (not to mention my burn out), this book really didn’t stand up to a reread.

Tomorrow, When the War Began is decent, but I can’t say anything more glowing than that. The action scenes and general concept are fun, as are the Australian sayings peppered throughout. A group of teens decide to go camping in the bush over a holiday and return to find that their small Australian town has been taken over by a force from some other country. They end up going bush and deciding to retaliate as much as they can.

For the most part, I think Tomorrow, When the War Began does a good job capturing how teens might feel and react in this situation. The main issue I take plot-wise is that they have no fucking clue what country the invaders are from. I couldn’t even tell what the skin color of the invaders was from the descriptions. They ought to at least have a general sense whether this force has come from Asia or Europe or whatever.

Mostly, the writing just wasn’t up to snuff. There’s a lot of telling, mostly pontificating on how Ellie feels about things and explaining to the reader why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s a good read for a middle grader maybe, because it will hold their hands through the harder concepts. Then again, Ellie’s thinking about having sex a fair amount, so who knows. There’s a totally forced love triangle with Ellie’s simultaneous crushes on Homer and Lee, which I really don’t think needed to be there. And I’m not sure how I feel about Ellie’s voice. I also really don’t think that Ellie would have written about her mixed feelings for Homer in the record she was writing for all of them. She wouldn’t want anyone to know about that.

Tomorrow, When the War Began is okay, but I’d been planning to read the whole series after this, and I’m not going to. I was already bored by the end of this one, so I’m not going to make it through six more.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Size Doesn’t Matter (89): Tomorrow, When the War Began; JuneJune by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore
Narrator: Sofia Willingham
Length: 14 hrs, 27 mins
Published by Random House Audio on May 31, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Historical, Romance, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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Twenty-five-year-old Cassie Danvers is holed up in her family’s crumbling mansion in rural St. Jude, Ohio, mourning the loss of the woman who raised her—her grandmother, June. But a knock on the door forces her out of isolation. Cassie has been named the sole heir to legendary matinee idol Jack Montgomery's vast fortune. How did Jack Montgomery know her name? Could he have crossed paths with her grandmother all those years ago? What other shocking secrets could June’s once-stately mansion hold?

Soon Jack’s famous daughters come knocking, determined to wrestle Cassie away from the inheritance they feel is their due. Together, they all come to discover the true reasons for June’s silence about that long-ago summer, when Hollywood came to town, and June and Jack’s lives were forever altered by murder, blackmail, and betrayal. As this page-turner shifts deftly between the past and present, Cassie and her guests will be forced to reexamine their legacies, their definition of family, and what it truly means to love someone, steadfastly, across the ages.

Lately, I haven’t been too much interested in adult novels, unless they fall into the romance genre, but I still pick out some random books outside of my typical interests to try in audiobook format. Penguin Random House is generous with audiobook reviewers, and audiobooks work really well for certain types of book that maybe I wouldn’t be as into in print. June, which I’d never heard of before I got the email, proved to be a fun listen, making some narrative choices I really hadn’t expected.

Cassie Danvers inherits a crumbling Ohio mansion following her grandmother’s death and, at a loss for what to do, she moves in. She doesn’t have the money to fix up Two Oaks, and she’s too depressed to do anything even if she did have the money. Cassie lets bills pile up and doesn’t answer the phone. Then a man show up on her doorstep and informs her that she’s slated to receive the multi-million dollar inheritance of Hollywood legend Jack Montgomery.

June alternates between the modern perspective of Cassie, as she works with Jack’s famous actress children (Tate and Elda) to figure out what really happened and the perspectives of Cassie’s grandmother June and her friend Lindy as the events transpired back in the fifties. All perspectives are third person. Sadly, I wasn’t as invested in the historical story as I was in Cassie’s. I was totally into Cassie’s romance with Nick and her found family with Tate, Elda and entourage, but June’s story was well over considering that most of the players were already dead. I just don’t get invested in stuff like that. I did, however, really appreciate Lindy’s portrayal (she’s basically a butch lesbian before that shit flew).

The writing seemed lovely on the whole, though occasionally went a bit mega literary award bait. Also, June couldn’t quite seem to decide whether it wanted to go full on magical realism. Two Oaks is occasionally personified and gives the people staying in the house dreams of the past, but this doesn’t seem strongly enough used to quite make the book feel magical. It’s a neat idea, but I’d have liked to see it played out to greater effect.

June was a pleasant surprise and a nice change of pace from my other reads lately. It’s just a shame that I was only invested in one of the two timelines.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


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