Study Guide

Tomorrow, When the War Began Plot Analysis

By John Marsden

Plot Analysis


The Unhappy Campers

A group of teenagers go camping in Hell, and when they get back, everything is different—by which we mean everyone has disappeared. While the kids are away, another country invades Australia, and our campers are one sorry bunch when they realize the extent to which their homeland is no longer theirs. With their families missing and their home radically changed, the state is officially set for the story.

Rising Action

Getting' the Low-Down, On the Down-Low

As the teens settle into survival mode, some work on building a base camp in the woods while others go on recon missions to town in hopes of finding out about their families and what the heck is generally going on. It's all super high stakes, and the kids know they could be caught at any moment—and that if they are, they could well be killed. Not wanting to just wait to see what happens, Homer concocts a plan to destroy a key piece of infrastructure—the bridge the military uses to truck in their ammo—and everyone agrees. Things are officially tense.


Up in Smoke

In a harrowing scene, Homer, Ellie, Fi, and Lee successfully blow up the bridge thanks to some solid planning, some good luck, and some stick-to-itiveness on Ellie's part. This is definitely the climax because it is the most action packed, scary, and exciting moment of the entire book. It is also when the kids fulfill their mission to fight back. Mission accomplished, we get the sense they're ready to hunker down for a bit now.

Falling Action

Home Sweet Home?

After the fall of the bridge, our action heroes are riding high on adrenaline, and they head back to Ellie's place where they find their friends… sad and solemn. Corrie's been shot and is bleeding a lot. Kevin steps up to drive her to the hospital, where hopefully they will cared for and not killed. Fingers crossed. Everyone else goes back to Hell to wait and work on their camp.


The Waiting Game

The resolution is really a non-resolution. As Ellie signs off, the kids are still in Hell, working on their camp, and it's been a week since they last saw Kevin and Corrie. How long will they have to stay here? Who knows—that's a question for the next book in the series to answer.