Divided We Stand by Rachel McLean #BookReview #BlogBlitz

Britain is a country under surveillance. Neighbours spy on neighbours. Schools enforce loyalty to the state. And children are encouraged to inform on their parents.

Disgraced MP Jennifer Sinclair has earned her freedom but returns home to find everything changed.

Rita Gurumurthy has been sent to a high security prison. When a sympathetic guard helps her escape she becomes a fugitive, forced to go into hiding.

To reunite her family and win freedom for her son and her friend, Jennifer must challenge her old colleague and rival, the new Prime Minister Catherine Moore.

Will Catherine listen to reason and remove the country from its yoke of fear and suspicion? Or will Jennifer have to reveal the secret only she knows about Catherine, and risk plunging the country into turmoil?

It's such a pleasure to be taking part in the blog blitz for Divided We Stand, the final book in Rachel McLean's Division Bell trilogy today. Huge thanks to the author, Catawampus Press and Rachel Gilbey from Rachel's Random Resources for inviting me and for my copy of the ebook.

The Division Bell trilogy is one of the highlights of my reading year in 2018; I loved the previous two books, A House Divided and Divide and Rule and have been desperately looking forward to finding out how the series ends. In order to fully appreciate the story arc across the trilogy, I would strongly recommend reading the books in order if you can.
Divided We Stand opens immediately after the events of the last book with Jennifer Sinclair released from the British Values Centre she had been held at after being accused of harbouring a suspected terrorist - her son, Samir. She has only been away from home for a few months but in that time everything has changed. It's been fascinating following Jennifer's story over the course of these books - from the assured and capable MP introduced in the first novel to the bewildered inmate of the political system to the more reflective and cautious yet no less determined woman she has become. She must come to terms with the massive change in her circumstances, not only politically but personally too. Her eldest son is still in prison and threatened with deportation but her youngest, Hassan is growing up fast and is doing so in an increasingly suspicious and Islamophobic country. Jennifer is desperate to keep her family safe but she also wants to help the other women she was locked up with. Her principled nature means she believes it is not too late for the country but with her political influence gone and her every move under surveillance, she may be risking everything once more. It's impossible not to admire her but there are times where despite everything she still seems hopelessly naive and I felt enormous sympathy for her husband, Yusuf who has endured many of the same fears as his wife whilst also being personally affected by a society that has become increasingly racist.
At the same time Jennifer is being released, her fellow 'patient', Rita Gurumurthy is being moved to a high security prison. Rita was one of my favourite characters in Divide and Rule so I was delighted to see her return in this book but after a terrible time in the centre, life is no less challenging for her here. There's a rather poignant moment early on where a police officer, Sonia treats her with kindness and dignity which means she hesitates when she has the chance to escape. However, she eventually chooses to run but soon begins to question whether she would have been safer in prison. Britain has become a frightening and oppressive place to live, cameras are everywhere, even pointing into houses and the people are angry, scared and mistrustful. Her situation seems absolutely desperate and I couldn't see how she was ever going to evade being captured again. I admired her belligerence in the previous book and this time her courage and resolve had me once again fervently hoping things would work out for this former primary school teacher who could never have expected to find herself in this situation
Divided We Stand is as frightening as the first two books and as before it's because the storyline is only too believable. Britain is already the most spied on country in the world and it doesn't take much of a leap to imagine a time where further terrorist atrocities could be used to persuade the public that the mass surveillance should be extended still further. The continuing harassment of Muslims, POC and immigrants has been encouraged and exacerbated by the dog-whistle statements by certain political figures and divisive rhetoric is already winning votes in Britain and around the world. Rachel McLean's dystopia is brilliant and terrifying because it's just so easy to foresee fiction becoming reality.
I was completely engrossed by the gripping and consistently tense plot throughout the book and my heart was in my mouth on several occasions as I raced through the pages, terrified for the characters whose lives I have become so invested in. I'm not going to mention too much about the ending to Divided We Stand so that I don't give away any spoilers but I will say that I've loved this trilogy and it was a bittersweet moment when I reached the last page. Divided We Stand is an engaging, intelligent political thriller and a superb way to round off this outstanding series.

Divided We Stand is published by Catawampus Press and can be purchased from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Look out for the #DividedWeStand hashtag on Twitter or follow @rararesources to see more reviews from my fellow bloggers taking part in today's blitz.

About the Author
I'm Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I'm told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories - well, I'm sorry but I can't help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They're inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.
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