This is one of my favourite books of this year; it’s different from most books I read & Rachel has done an incredible job of making this book feel very close to reality. I’m gutted this book isn’t up in the charts, because it absolutely deserves to be.
I was sent this book to review as part of a blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
⚠️ This book contains violence, death & scenes containing gun shooting & killing ⚠️
Sixteen-year-old Bex Ellman has been drafted into an army she doesn’t support and a cause she doesn’t believe in. Her plan is to keep her head down, and keep herself and her friends safe – until she witnesses an atrocity she can’t ignore, and a government conspiracy that threatens lives all over the UK. With her loyalties challenged, Bex must decide who to fight for – and who to leave behind.
The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK,
after Brexit and Scottish independence.
When I first started this book I had huge Our Girl vibes; with the training & the assholes above Bex, it was like reading a story based on the show, & that could only be a good thing because I love that show. A few chapters in & the Our Girl vibes dissipated & instead I started to feel like I was reading a book set in a very possible future – which I guess I was… Rachel Churcher has done an awesome job of creating a story that feels very real, especially when you live in the UK & hate what has been happening recently within politics & the further I got into the book, the more hooked I became on the story.
Our protagonist Bex is kinda’ your typical YA heroine but that wasn’t a bad thing; Rachel included the detail that Bex is a young carer, which didn’t affect the story that much, but I appreciate that Rachel went for this angle, rather than going for the typical parents-don’t-care trope, & I’m hopeful that we’ll learn more about this later in the series. Bex is feisty & is lucky to be in the army alongside one of her best friends (whilst the other is working for the “enemy”); however, her friendships are tested in the book constantly as those higher than her in the army are determined to stop the new recruits from having any decent bonds with their peers. Bex finds it hard to keep her head down because she refuses to let her friends drown, is constantly pushing against her superiors, & the pushing breaks all boundaries as Bex starts to learn the truth about the people she’s fighting for.
The plot of Battle Ground opened like a flower (I have a lot in my house right now because of it being the end of term) – things started off closed & mysterious, & I really wasn’t sure where things were going, but slowly things started to become clear until all of a sudden the plot blew up & the whole point became blatant. The background of this book was really clear; post-Brexit & everything is going wrong, but that didn’t mean that I knew where the story was going, & it kept me guessing until the very last page.
I was super lucky to meet Rachel Churcher at YALC this year & if you went, I hope you found her stall too – I got a signed copy of the book & had a lovely chat with her, which just made me enjoy the book even more. The end of the book came really suddenly for me, as there’s a chunk of the second book at the end of book one, meaning I thought I had a lot more pages left than I did… in some ways that made the ending more dramatic for me though, & I’ve forced myself not to read the preview because I know I won’t be able to cope with waiting for the rest of book two.
I really loved this book & I genuinely believe it deserves to be up in the charts with other fantastic dystopian stories & I’m ridiculously excited for book two – please, please, please order yourself a copy of this brilliant book:
Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Other Amazon links
Rachel Churcher was born between the last manned moon landing, and the first orbital Space Shuttle mission. She remembers watching the launch of STS-1, and falling in love with space flight, at the age of five. She fell in love with science fiction shortly after that, and in her teens she discovered dystopian fiction. In an effort to find out what she wanted to do with her life, she collected degrees and other qualifications in Geography, Science Fiction Studies, Architectural Technology, Childminding, and Writing for Radio.
She has worked as an editor on national and in-house magazines; as an IT trainer; and as a freelance writer and artist. She has renovated several properties, and has plenty of horror stories to tell about dangerous electrics and nightmare plumbers. She enjoys reading, travelling, stargazing, and eating good food with good friends – but nothing makes her as happy as writing fiction.
Her first published short story appeared in an anthology in 2014, and the Battle Ground series is her first long-form work. Rachel lives in East Anglia, in a house with a large library and a conservatory full of house plants. She would love to live on Mars, but only if she’s allowed to bring her books.
You can find Rachel’s blog here.
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