Delighted to be taking part today in the blog blitz today for Divide and Rule by Rachel McLean, which is book two in the Division Bell trilogy. You may recall that I reviewed book one in the trilogy, A House Divided last month and you can find that review here. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blitz today and to the author for my advance copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.
“Jennifer Sinclair’s fight to save her political career, her family and her freedom has failed. Traumatised by prison violence, she agrees to transfer to the mysterious British Values Centre.
Rita Gurumurthy has betrayed her country and failed the children in her care. Unlike Jennifer, she has no choice, but finds herself in the centre against her will.
Both women are expected to conform, to prove their loyalty to the state and to betray everything they hold dear. One attempts to comply, while the other rebels. Will either succeed in regaining her freedom?
Divide and Rule is 1984 for the 21st century – a chilling thriller examining the ruthless measures the state will take to ensure obedience, and the impact on two women.”
Do you realise how many rights and freedoms you have as a citizen of Great Britain today, or do you just take them for granted? Do you ever consider what life must be like in countries that don’t grant the same protection of personal rights that we do? How powerless would you feel if, all of a sudden, those rights and freedoms were taken away from you? If these thoughts have never occurred to you, and you happily pootle along from day to day, grumbling slightly about the few restrictions we do live under in order to make life bearable for society as a whole (as most of us do), I suggest you read this book for a healthy wake up call, because things could be a lot, lot worse.
This book picks up from where A House Divided left off so, although I’m sure this book could be read as a standalone, you will have a much richer and more rewarding reading experience if you have read book one first. Besides, the first book is fantastic, so you should definitely read it. Jennifer Sinclair, former MP and Prisons Minister has found herself incarcerated in one of the prisons she was formerly responsible for, after hiding her son, who was suspected of terrorist affiliations, and you can imagine how popular she is in there. So, when she is given the chance to move to a new rehabilitation centre, with the chance of following a six step programme that will lead to her freedom, she decides to take the chance.
Unfortunately, the centre does not turn out to be what she was promised and, along with other women accused of similar ‘crimes’, she is subjected to a system of brainwashing designed to stop the women questioning a system which is becoming increasingly dictatorial, and the women find that all the rights they believed they had as a result of living in a democratic country have been severely eroded. How do you fight a system that doesn’t grant you any rights or protections? The book explores the different approaches taken by Jennifer, still thinking like a politician, and Rita, defiant in her beliefs and unwilling to conform, as they try to play the programme and earn their escape.
I read this book in a single sitting, late into the night, my body rigid with tension throughout. I was totally hooked on the story from beginning to end; I simply could not look away from the page. I was gripped with mounting horror as it became apparent that this scenario is frighteningly plausible and, as I pondered the questions posed in paragraph one of this post, realised that we take far too much for granted in this country, that we actually have little personal power and rely far too much on legal freedoms which could easily be taken away. In fact, in recent history there have been situations where internment without trial have been used (the Troubles in Northern Ireland being the most recent example) and were being mooted again as solutions to terrorism by certain factions more recently. When one considers this, this book becomes even more eye-opening. ‘There by the grace of God” is a phrase that springs to mind.
I have been concerned by the direction that politics is currently taking in this country, and by certain things that have happened over the past few years, certain headlines in the newspapers and rhetoric on social media. Reading this book has done nothing to quell my fears. If you are looking for a horror story for Halloween, forget Stephen King or M.R. James, this is it. A small part of me is banking on Rachel leaving us with a hopeful ending in book three, Divided We Stand, which I will be reviewing on 20 November, but I fear this may be wishful thinking.
Divide and Rule is out now, and you can buy a copy here.
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.
Connect with Rachel:
Facebook: Rachel McLean
Goodreads: Rachel McLean