Defender: The most gripping read-in-one-go thriller since The Stand (The Voices Book 1) (Voices 1) Paperback – 10 Aug 2017
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Compelling, suspenseful, and altogether extraordinary. You won't forget this one in a hurry (Lee Child)
So accomplished that it's difficult to believe it's a first novel, Defender is already worthy to take its place alongside The Stand in the canon. An absolute gem of a book (John Connolly)
A chilling vision of a world gone feral, yet strangely triumphant. You can taste the dust and blood and sweat; the fear on every page. Readers should approach with caution, those voices will burrow into your head and heart (Karen Maitland)
An incredibly accomplished and impressive debut. The novel is of a piece with Stephen King's The Stand. . . Defender stands head and shoulders above most recent post-apocalyptic offerings (Independent)
It's not often you read a debut this assured, this confident. Defender is simply majestic (Adam Christopher, author of Made to Kill)
Defender is insane, intelligent, beautifully plotted, intensely absorbing and will enfold you in a vice-like grip from the first page until the last sentence (Lizlovesbooks.com)
A rich blend of horror and heart . . . sharp, gruelling and gripping, and we can't wait to explore this harsh world further and see what Todd has to offer us in part two (SciFiNow magazine)
Highly entertaining . . . Defender portrays a vivid picture of the cruelty of humanity and highlights the destructive power of the mind (thebookbag.com)
Defender is a delightfully dark dystopian journey with compelling characters and a provocative plot. Highly recommended (sfbook.com)
Yes it's dark, violent and blood. Yes there's gore, guns and grief. But there's also friendship, loyalty, fantastic characters and writing that will keep you hooked from the outset. . . This is a series to be really excited about (strupag.com)
The primal battle between Good and Evil plays out in a new arena. With nods back to Stephen King's The Stand, Defender is the first in a four-part series where your inner voice might kill you.See all Product description
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The best post-apocalyptic stories (The Road by Cormac McCarthy being a great example) follow certain set patterns. As society has been destroyed then the human race, or what remains, take on the mantle of nomadic travellers and restlessly move from place to place in the hope of finding sustenance and companionship. Within this world devoid of all leadership and direction the evil that man is capable of is soon unveiled...."Fairness and justice had lost their place in the world. If they'd ever had a place in it to begin with."..... Pilgrim has agreed to transport his new companion Lacey to her family home in Vicksburg in search of her niece Addison. They are soon to be joined in their quest by a young lady called Alex. "Defender" is the story of this journey the hardships of the trip and their encounter with Charles Dumont the personification of everything evil. This is a novel that is filled with wonderful colourful characters that come alive under the penmanship of the author GX Todd. The pace is relentless with some excellent descriptive prose.."This time it held no beauty, there was not buttery sun to soften its rough, crumbling edges, no warm, orange brush-strokes to paint it in a kinder light...."He had seen his fair share of half-eaten corpses and was familiar with most of the organs of the human body, in all their states of putridity." A great debut novel and I look forward to reading "Hunted" the second in the series due for release in early 2018.
The villain of the tale isn't a deadly virus or meteor hell bent on destruction, it is something a lot more insidious. An unseen (but not unheard) voice has started to talk to people and it's not their subconscious it's something that might kill you but not before you've killed others. The thought that there would be no escape from that niggling, and often murderous, little voice is terrifying.
I loved Pilgrim and Lacey but my favourite was Voice. I was a fan of Chocky by John Wyndham as a child and Voice evoked those memories, I actually wanted a Chocky/Voice of my own.
A fantastic start to a new series; I can't wait to read more from this author.
Defender, the first of a new series of novels by debut writer G. X. Todd, takes a spin on apocalypse genre by changing up pandemic narratives. Moving away from the killer flus of Station Eleven or The Last Of Us (the Rob Ewing novel, not the game), Todd presents us with an epidemic of audible hallucinations.
In the interest of honesty in this review, I’d like to state I have experienced audible hallucinations and in reading the premise I was intrigued and a little nervous of how they were going to be handled. I am relieved to say that I needn’t have worried. I don’t want to give away too much to do with the voices as Todd carefully spoons you tidbits of information as the novel goes, but be reassured by my personal experience tinted review.
Defender’s lead characters follow the commonly-seen-in-video-games trope of crusty, morally-grey man and naive ingenue girl who can really wield a gun – The Last Of Us (now I mean the game) and Telltale’s The Walking Dead spring to mind. Pilgrim is a mysterious man on a bike who has a voice; in a world where many of the people who heard have died, he is somewhat of a minority, having coexisted with Voice for seven years since the world went to hell. Lacey has been living alone since her Grammy died in their house, and decides that she needs to find her sister Karey and niece Addison in Vicksburg. Upon tricking Pilgrim into buying some lemonade, Lacey decides he will be the man to escort her to her sister.
Pilgrim and Lacey have a great chemistry and a genuine affection for each other, which is a joy to read. Their friendship and care is a lightness and hope in a dark world.
And when I say dark, I mean The Road levels of dark. When you pick up Defender, don’t think it is a novel to read before bed (yes I made this mistake frequently). I’ve popped content warnings at the bottom of the page to be specific for those who want them, but this novel is very violent, bloody and grim.
I loved it. I really loved it. The mystery of the voices thrilled me and the plight of Lacey, Pilgrim and Alex (who they rescue from absolutely blood curdling circumstances quite early on in the novel) gripped me until the last page. Todd’s writing is intricate, weaving complex graphic action scenes through seamless construction, setting your heart racing and your mind screaming oh god did that really just happen oh god it did.
What to read next:
The Last of Us by Rob Ewing
The Power by Naomi Aldermaan
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Thank you kindly to the team at Headline Books for sharing this copy with me.
Content notes: rape, violence against women, graphic violence, references to suicide and self harm, discussion of audible hallucinations.
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