DISCLAIMER: I WAS SENT A FREE COPY OF THIS BOOK IN RETURN FOR A FAIR AND UNBIASED REVIEWED
‘Trapped. Cornered. And all I can feel is the pain. The bullet against my knee.’
What I thought
There’s two parts to this review, the first is of the book itself and the second is where it sits against Battle Ground.
‘False Flag’ follows Ketty Smith, the lead recruit trainer at an army training camp where all of her recruits are teens and are conscripted to be the face of the fight against terrorists in the UK. Her job is to push them into shape, they were barely able to do the warm up lap when they got to the camp and if they fail so does she. But failing means going back to a drunk abusive father in a council flat. The stakes are high for her and that definitely shapes her thoughts. She in no way could be called kind, but thats also not what her job requires. Ketty views any kind of kindness as a weakness that needs to be squished out of her recruits and the two that she’s got her sights set on the most are Saunders (who fell asleep in the first briefing) and Elleman (who is the mother of the group and would be a good recruit if she stopped trying to push the others over the line first).
It’s Elleman (Bex) who really clashes with Ketty though, she stopped during a solo time test to cheer on others and is constantly mothering the group of friends that she’s surrounded herself with. As Ketty thinks many times, the army isn’t a place for mothering and kindness, it’s a place of action and repeatitive training so they could work with anyone. And in their line of work, working with someone means potentially trusting them with your life and with the lives of the public.
This book, compared to the first one, really looks at what it means to be a soldier and to be conscripted. It’s very clear that there is a class difference between Bex and her fellow volunteer soldiers – the trainers- and the teenage conscripted soldiers – the recruits or ‘tiny fighters’ as Ketty calls them. The recruits all come from a posh boarding school, they had career plans to go into medicine, law, or politics. Ketty worked cleaning the dirtiest stuff at a local butchers, as a high school drop out. Her view of the world is very different, for her the army is a way up in the world and her smarts all come from harsh experiences of the world whilst the recruits’ all come from books.
Once again a focus of this book is child soldiers but it’s only mentioned once or twice just how young the recruits are at the beginning. Every now and again I had to remind myself that the people Ketty was complaining about were only 15/16, I think she’s probably only 19/20 but the small difference means a lot at that age plus she had chosen to be there and they didn’t.
This book would completely work as a standalone or as the first book in the series. It taks place over the same period of time and follos the same events as ‘Battle Ground’ but from the antagonists POV. It’s a really interesting move and appears to happen throughout the series, so what would be a trilogy is 6 books. A double trilogy? Like a double helix, intertwined together, two parts of the same coin? (I’ll come up with a better analog by book 3).
While reading this one I found I forgot why I liked Bex in the previous one, she became an annoying kid and someone who clearly didn’t understand how the army works and therefore how she was expected to behave. And that’s the sign of good writing, the previous protagonist has become an annoying side character.
This works because its a look at propaganda, I didn’t like Ketty when I was reading Bex’s POV and I didn’t like Bex when I was reading Ketty’s POV. With the book looking at media and how information is passed on and what slant it gets given; the way the books are written are the best example for what they are looking at.
Why I read it
I was sent a free copy for review but I was intereted in finding out what happened, and even more so when I learnt that it was from Ketty’s POV
Churcher pulls off a real trick by giving us exactly the same events but from a completely different view point. I love the idea and as muchas I know that I wouldn’t get along with Ketty as a person she’s a great character because of her depth. She’s not kind or caring but she doesn’t pretend to be and is doing what she can to be one of the good guys
Am I glad I read it? Yes
Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read again? Maybe
Would I recommend? Yes
Thanks again to Rachel for organising the blog tour, I’m looking forward to reading book 3.