TITLE: While I Live
AUTHOR: John Marsden
SERIES: Ellie Linton Chronicles
PUBLISHER: Pan Macmillian
While I Live is probably what many bloggers might call old news, but after only just having read this first book in the Ellie Linton chronicles I thought I’d give a review a go. Interesting and well written, it offers an insight into something most authors don’t bother to explore: after the war. Though I wouldn’t say I was captivated mind and soul, it was definitely a good way to pass a few hours when I was bored.
The basic plot picks up a few months after the war has ended, and Australia has come to an uneasy truce with it’s new neighbours. Now having to fit the entire population to an area that previously housed only six million, Ellie discovers that the chance of a regular life is still far from her reach. After the horrifying murder of her family, Ellie faces the trouble of keeping her farm going on almost no money – whilst trying to fend off people who would exploit her youth and lack of guardianship for their own gain. With increasing skirmishes on the border Ellie comes into contact with a secret group called the Liberation, and finds herself becoming more and more involved even despite her wishes. As things progress many things come to light, and Ellie begins to realise that though the fight may be over, the battle has only just begun.
I guess I liked the plot, it was a more realistic idea than just going, ‘oh, there’s a truce, everybody’s going to have a HEA’. Because, in the real world, they’re not. There’s going to be fights, and I liked that Marsden chose to portray it this way than in some place where insta-peace actually exists. I found the characters very identifiable as well, I loved Gavin’s relentless determination, and the selfless way Ellie did things for others even if she didn’t want to. I also was a total fan of being able to truly hate Mr Sayle, instead of the author suddenly revealing that you should actually feel sorry for him and be on his side. That rarely happens nowadays, and when do you actually get the chance to really, really hate someone without feeling bad?
I will say one thing despite this, though Marsden writes well, with clear imagery and good descriptions, he hasn’t quite mastered the technique of writing as a girl. He writes as if he is interpreting a girl’s thoughts, but not actually being her, if that makes any sense? I didn’t think too much of it, but being of the fairer gender myself I know our thoughts aren’t quite as straightforward and simplified (not in a stupid way). As I said, it wasn’t too much of a problem, but it did constantly remind me that there was someone else behind the words and kind of spoiled the feel for me.
Nevertheless, once again Marsden has provided readers with a first hand look at life in war, coupled with memorable characters and themes some others wouldn’t dare approach. Dark in places, hopeful in others, While I Live is a great start to a new series that us Aussies should be proud of.