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This is the third book in “The Ellie Chronicles” and I think it’s time for Marsden to wrap this series up.  I have loved the stories of Ellie and her adventures during and after the war.  However, there’s nothing fresh and new in the books anymore.  Ellie continues to wrestle with the big issues of war and violence, struggles to care for Gavin, and can’t decide which boy she loves–Lee or Jeremy.  It’s time to say good-bye to Ellie and move on to another adventure.

Incurable by John Marsden

13th October 2007

Incurable: Library Edition (The Ellie Chronicles)I have been waiting a long time for this book. I had to settle for the CD version, as the print copy still isn’t available in the U.S. However, listening to the book on CD made exercising and housework fun for awhile!

On the whole, it is a worthy addition to The Ellie Chronicles. The war is now done, although there is still plenty of “unofficial” violence. Ellie is working her parent’s ranch, and caring for Gavin, a troubled war orphan. She tries to balance these responsibilities with her desire to help protect her country. Ellie is a very analytical person, and her reflections on friendship, responsibility, war, terrorism and violence add a deep dimension to a book that otherwise could be just mindless action scenes. This leads to my main complaint about the book. Some of the action scenes seemed to be needlessly drawn out by Ellie’s inner monologues. Sometimes they would go on for so long, I’d forget that she was driving a jeep through the outback while being shot at by enemy helicopters. However, since I was listening to the book instead of reading it, I think this bothered me more than it normally would. Usually, I just skim if the action slows down, but that’s hard to do on a CD!

On a side note, I very much enjoyed the reader, Mikaela Martin. She is so easy to listen to, and her Australian accent is delightful.

While I Live (The Ellie Chronicles)I first listened to this book on CD several years ago. It’s the beginning of a new series by Marsden called “The Ellie Chronicles” and it picks up where his “Tomorrow” series ends. I enjoyed listening to the book, and I enjoyed reading it as well. Once I finished it this time, I figured that surely the next book in the series would be out by now, but I didn’t see it at my local library. So I went to Marsden’s website and discovered that the next TWO books were out. Yeah! Now for my big disappointment. When I e-mailed my library to request them, they replied and said that the sequels haven’t been published in the United States yet. They are only available in Australia. From what I can tell, it took several years for While I Live to be published in the US, (although the audio version has been available here for awhile). I searched Amazon, and they don’t have the sequels either. So to sum up, my options are: Fly to Australia and buy the books, try and locate copies on CD, or wait anxiously for several years for the US publication. Vacation anyone?

This book, along with its six sequels, comprise one of my favorite young adult series. When I was in elementary school, I loved reading The Boxcar Children, because the kids were independent, creative, and able to survive on their own. For the same reasons, I also loved My Side of the Mountain. Marsden’s series creates that same combination of independence and survival skills in a group of modern day teenagers, struggling to survive and protect their homeland when it is invaded by enemy soldiers. Additionally, Marsden’s series also has a strong female lead character, which is unusual in an action series.

A disclaimer: You can’t think too hard about the plot. The specifics of the invasion and subsequent war are far from realistic. But nonetheless, the characters are fascinating, the action is exciting, and Marsden achieves a good balance between moving the story forward, and allowing his characters to grow and reflect on their actions and the consequences. I originally read this series in July of 2004. I am quickly devouring it again, and am enjoying it just as much the second time around.