C.'s Reviews > The Third Day, the Frost

The Third Day, the Frost by John Marsden
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's review
Nov 08, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: australian, children-s-young-adults, own-or-access, 2009
Read in November, 2009

I'm having a problem with this series: aside from the obvious fact that Marsden realised he was onto a good thing and decided to prolong for six books and then another series what really could have been dealt with in a trilogy, it all seems too bad to be true.

I had this problem in, I think, the fifth Harry Potter book. You remember Dolores Umbridge? She and the things she did just seemed so horrible, so unreasonable, that it was no longer realistic. Obviously, HP is fantasy so by definition it's not realistic, but one of its strengths I think is that the characters are so normal. They could be real people. Umbridge didn't seem to fit for me - she was too illogical, her actions made no sense.

Which brings me back to this story. I can accept that people from another country could try and colonise Australia, because Australia'd been a bastard to them and because they needed more room to live in, but then to keep the Australian population living virtually as slaves to do menial labour around the place? Firstly, it seems like a recipe for disaster, from the colonists' point of view: wouldn't that make it more likely for an uprising to occur? Forcing people to work as slaves in terrible conditions in the places they'd grown up with and loved - possibly not the best idea? Besides, what would they do with the millions of people who live in the cities? Sounds like a logistical nightmare ta me.

But it's more than that. It just doesn't seem like it would ever happen, on a deep instinctive level. That no one would be cruel enough to do that to someone else. That the international community - whatever that trite, worn phrase is supposed to mean - would just sit by and let it happen. I can't imagine people from some other country moving into Australian farms and being able to just look on while real live people did slave labour for them.

Maybe I'm just being naive, as per usual - maybe people are cruel enough, and other countries would be indifferent enough. Western countries don't exactly have the greatest record when it comes to stepping in and doing something when bad things are happening in the world, unless of course there's some other motive driving them.

And, really, this is just some moderately-crappy YA fiction: it's not supposed to be realistic. There are holes in the plot you could drive a tractor through (to use the sort of metaphor Marsden would use - do people from the country really talk like that? The ones I know certainly don't). But it's a whole lot of fun to read and is adequately distracting me while I should be studying, so I shouldn't complain.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Anna (new)

Anna Slavery seems entirely possible to me, but perhaps not in Australia - or the first world more generally.

The example of contemporary slave labour that came to mind is chocolate production on the Ivory Coast. Most of the "workers" are children.


message 2: by C. (last edited Nov 09, 2009 06:56PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

C. My automatic reaction was an indignant "Yeah, but that's different!" But maybe it's not so different. Maybe it's just my first world goggles doing the talking (to mix my metaphors).

But I think what you say - "not in Australia - or the first world more generally" - is the key. I wasn't questioning whether or not there was any slavery in the world at this point in time - I know that there is, even in first world countries (sex slavery comes to mind). It just seemed unrealistic to me that it could happen under those circumstances. To suddenly force people who had enjoyed all the privileges of a (comparatively) wealthy first-world life to become slaves on their own properties - there are so many reasons why that wouldn't work, but also it just feels unrealistic in my gut in a way I'm having difficulty understanding.

message 3: by Anna (new)

Anna Yes, I agree. It seems to me it would only work to make people slaves from inside an existing system - for example the use of slaves under fascism, which was an incremental change. A fullscale invasion just seems so unlikely - like he is embodying a hypothetical notion.

message 4: by C. (new) - rated it 2 stars

C. Yes! I think that is exactly right. It's weird because although I often read books that are unrealistic in some way it's very rare that I get such a strong instinctive feeling that something is really not right - the author has gone too far.

message 5: by C. (new) - rated it 2 stars

C. Just because things like this haven't happened in Australia or whatever doesn't mean they haven't happened.

Of course it doesn't; I'm asking whether it would happen under the circumstances Marsden describes. 1930's-1940's Ukraine is hardly comparable to 1990's Australia.

he raises the question of what would happen if this occurred where we live

I agree with what you say here, I'm just not convinced that it would happen like he said.

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