This series just gets better with every instalment – I can’t believe there’s only two more in the series!! The Battle Ground series is impossible not to get hooked on & it’s scary how possible it is that life in the UK could really go this way. Moving to Scotland is definitely on my to-do list.
I was sent this book to review as part of a blog tour organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
⚠️ Violence, guns, discussions of terrorist behaviour, violent interrogation, death of a parent, abuse toward a wheelchair user & alcoholism ⚠️
Bex Ellman and Ketty Smith are fighting on opposite sides in a British civil war. Bex and her friends are in hiding, but when Ketty threatens her family, Bex learns that her safety is more fragile than she thought.
The Battle Ground series is set in a dystopian near-future UK, after Brexit and Scottish independence.
I am truly obsessed with this series; everything about it feels very believable to the point where it can become a little bit scary. The Battle Ground series is the most relevant series in & about the UK right now & I can’t believe that it’s not on every book-lovers shelf.
Darkest Hour continues directly on from the end of both Battle Ground & False Flag – books one & two cover the same time period but from two different perspectives: Bex, on the side of the resistance, & Ketty, on the side of the government. So much happens in this book & there were scenes that I hated but that just made it an even more emotional & gripping read. My biggest warning about this book is a little bit of a spoiler so I’m going to explain it in detail at the end of my review & it will be marked with asterisks.
In Darkest Hour we see Ketty continue to work her way further into the government hierarchy, & we have to witness her making some horrible decisions. Ketty is, without doubt, one of the bad guys but Rachel Churcher writes in a way that makes you empathise with her despite her actions & views. Rachel has done a brilliant job of writing this book in an overall impartial way – even though we know Ketty is making horrible decisions, when reading her chapters, there’s no hate for her character radiating from the writing, leaving the reader to really make their own decisions on how they feel about Ketty’s choices. Even though I’ve stated that Ketty is on the bad side, it’s very possible that other readers will disagree with me on that & will see Bex & the resistance as the ones doing wrong.
Within Bex’s chapters there is a lot of hiding; Bex & her friends are essentially on the run & are doing everything they can to stay hidden from the government. Bex experiences some horrible things in this instalment (more of which I’ll discuss below) & I couldn’t help but shed a tear or two for her position. For me, Bex & those she ends up “working for” are on the right side of history, but we still see that even the good guys can be heartless at times & that just because Bex isn’t in the army anymore, it doesn’t mean she’s free. Rachel Churcher hasn’t made Bex’s side of the story easy or too positive – Bex is experiencing a lot of negatives even though she’s doing the right thing & there are things that the resistance do that left me just as frustrated as the government.
*Spoiler* The thing about this book that upset me the most is the way that Bex has to say goodbye to her father before he dies & the fact that her disabled mother is captured by the government. The scene where Bex is reunited with her parents is short, but it’s full of emotion & the fact that Bex doesn’t get to properly say goodbye to her father is horrible. I also hated that Bex’s mum ends up behind bars – even though she’s not being treated awfully, Bex is lead to believe that she’s being tortured & that she’s having medical care withheld & as a disabled reader that was hard to stomach. I can appreciate why Rachel included these scenes though – it makes the story more real & means that it isn’t a typical YA that acts like parents don’t exist or care. Bex’s mum does care & she puts herself at risk to save her daughter. *Spoiler end*
As I’ve said, I am obsessed with this series & I cannot wait for the next book – even if it will be the penultimate instalment. This series feels more & more realistic all the time & is definitely my favourite dystopian series. You can find the purchase links & information on all the books in the series here!
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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