DISCLAIMER – I was sent a free copy of this book in return for a fair and unbiased review
‘We’re out of time.
I need to see paper targets, not people. I need to take my training and use it to save my friends. I can’t let my feelings stop me’
Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith meet in London. As the war heats up around them, Bex and Ketty must learn to trust each other. With her friends and family in danger, Bex needs Ketty to help rescue them. For Ketty, working with Bex is a matter of survival. When Victory is declared, both will be held accountable for their decisions.
What I thought
Once again this book (and series) surprised me by not being shy to look at the situation realistically. The series has clearly been building to the moment when the dictatorship is overthrown and some semblance of democracy is returned to England and Wales, (as well as The King who has been hiding in Scotland). Most books would finish at that point, where the ‘bad guy’ has been killed and leave that as the starting point for ‘happy ever after’. But that’s not what happens here. The revolution is done really quickly, about a third of the way through the book. The rest is about the outcome, what happens to Ketty on the losing side and how she survives, what happens to Bex as the face of the revolution when even the King says she’s a hard act to follow in his speech.
Everyone is clearly suffering from PTSD and Ketty falls back into pushing forward everyday with backbone and determination, because yes she was on the losing side but she was also a soldier doing her job and was being told that she was fighting terrorists. Bex hated her position from the beginning as a front line doll, and she’s still being forced into that role with multiple interviews after the day is done and the battle is won. She’s still being forced to relive it and having her story told as just that ‘a story’ where it’s easy to shrug aside the pain, fear, and the hurt.
This book isn’t about winning, it’s about what happens after you’ve won. And how for most people their day to day lives won’t change (although they’ll have ‘normal’ TV again and the internet). It’s about how no matter Bex doesn’t want to be seen she’s forced into this position where she is always going to be the most famous one in the room and people are always going to want to know her or get a photo. It’s easy to be sympathetic to Ketty because even though she’s a stubborn character and not necessarily likeable she was doing her job and trying to protect people. She’s got a limp and because her kneecap was shot out when she was trying to protect a bus full of kids, because she’d been placed as bait.
Also PTSD is real guys. There is no way that Bex, Ketty, and friends do not have it to varying degrees. And that’s just taken as red here, of course they had PTSD they’re have an extremely traumatic year (because oh my god it’s only been a year since Bex and Dan were conscripted/kidnapped from school with no clue what was going on).
Why I read it
I was offered a chance on the first book early last year and it sounded interesting, a bleak worst-case scenario of Brexit and I still can’t say a year on that it’s not going to happen. But I’m glad that I said yes to that blog tour, I’ve really enjoyed being part of the promo for the entire series.
This has been a great series showing both sides of the argument (not from the higher ups but from the people who are actually fighting the war). I’m nto sure I’d get along with either Ketty or Bex in real life but in every POV change I was able to understand them just a bit more and dislike the other one.
I love that the last two chapters were from the points of view of Rebecca and Katrina. They are both trying to move on my putting that period of their lives, and their names, behind them rather then letting it be a constant reminder/trigger.
Did I enjoy it? Enjoy is weird word for a book where PTSD and child soldiers are involved… I definitely liked it though.
Am I glad I read it? Yes. It’s a great way to close the series and to really see the impact that it had on people both sides of the fight.
Would I read again? Maybe. It honestly depends on what’s happening in UK politics, I don’t know if I wan to read about child soldiers and a dictatorship and a free Scotland if that’s what happens… but you never know.
Would I recommend? Yes. It’s a really well written series and doesn’t shy away from just how screwed up the world has to be to rely on teenagers and the impact that has on the teenagers and being the face of an argument
Thank you to @rararesources for organising all of the blog tours and to Rachel Churcher for writing such a gripping series. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for her name in the future.