Review of Fighting Back by Rachel Churcher

Bex Ellman and her friends are in hiding, sheltered by the resistance. With her family threatened and her friendships challenged, she’s looking for a way to fight back. Ketty Smith is in London, supporting a government she no longer trusts. With her support network crumbling, Ketty must decide who she is fighting for – and what she is willing risk to uncover the truth.

**Whilst I have tried to keep this review spoiler free there will be many spoilers for earlier books in the series**

I’m going to start by saying that Fighting Back is the stand out novel of the series so far for me. It has a different feel to the first three, almost a calm before the storm or a chance to take a breath assess the gravity of everything that is happening. I have to admit I felt the lines blurring between the government and resistance and may actually be finding something to like in Ketty.

To the story though, having settled in Edinburgh, Bex and her friends are still dealing with the fall out of Jake’s decision, but despite her treatment by him, Bex continues to be the parent figure of the group trying to problem solve as best she can. Her problem solving on this occasion however, leads to an unexpected opportunity which creates a real shift in her.  In short, Bex has to grow up, fast. I found myself very much liking this more measured Bex, her time spent not running for her life allows her to settle more in herself and her monologues are thoughtful rather than the rash decisions of circumstance.

Ketty shone for me this time, it’s a big ask for me to change my tune about her and I went into this book expecting the loss of Jackson to have been her driving force for ill, but in fact her ability to maintain business as usual showed a real fortitude. In many ways Ketty is an incredibly complex character, yet actually when you bring it down to the baseline there is a simplicity in what makes her tick, she has a strong moral compass and she is all or nothing in her feelings of right and wrong. I love how she is 100% unshakeable until she is presented with fact but then, to her credit, is able to step back and think about that fact in a rational way, which is a skill lacking in many who are so firmly entrenched in their beliefs.

What is clear from both women is that the manipulations being woven around them are so beautifully subtle it’s hard to know where it does indeed begin. Both are being used in different ways and the correlation of deceit and realisation between them made me feel that they weren’t so far apart after all. The way their actions and reactions feed into one another is really quite masterful and demonstrates great thought and skill from the author. The locations are fairly static but the book benefits from this as it is the most character driven book of the series, but the London location leads to the availability of iconic landmarks. These really brings home the ability to fully visualise the closing stages as even those who have never visited the city will know exactly what to imagine. What a closing stage as well, just wow, I was totally on the edge of my seat as things played out, a trigger for the resistance was needed and that is a trigger and then some.

I started by saying that this was a stand out book in the series and I have to give it 5 very well deserved stars!

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