Written by: Gx Todd @GemTodd
Published by: Headline @headlinepg
“In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.
The moment locks them together.
Here and now it’s dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.
These voices have purpose.
And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.”
I pre-ordered Defender two months before its release date on the 12th of January, 2017. I’ve bought it twice. One chapter in I immediately went to Amazon and bought the Audio Book version as well.
I mention the above facts because I’ve never done either before in my life. What sort of a lunatic buys a book twice or pays for it before they know if it’s any good?
I came across the book completely at random one day simply browsing through twitter. Post apocalyptic, likened to Stephen King’s The Stand. Well that got my attention.
I desperately tried to seek out more information on the plot. Couldn’t find any. Just the brief description above taken directly from the Amazon page.
This drove me slowly insane. Two months of dying to know more about this book with only a brief description and a cover to go by. I had built up in my mind a plot, what the voices were. I could not WAIT to get this book into my eyeballs.
I was not disappointed.
First off don’t let the cover fool you. Looks like it’s a Y.A. (Young Adult) book, doesn’t it? I need to warn you right now, this is a very different beast. This book is definitely aimed at an adult audience.
Todd has created a fully believable, dystopian nightmare of a world. Due to her excellent descriptive writing style the world seven or so years after the arrival of the Voices is as much a character in this book as it’s protagonists are. In particular the River Boat casino featured towards the climax of the story is so well described I feel I could take people on a guided tour of what I imagine is a completely imaginary construct.
I cared about these characters. I wanted the heroes Lacey, Pilgrim and Alex to succeed. I wanted the villains to get their comeuppance. Well, I thought I did. Right up until one harrowing scene where Lacey sees first hand what repercussions such a comeuppance can have, in an expertly handled piece of writing.
The characterization is first class here. Todd using the tool of Voice allows you to get right inside their minds in a way that makes the emotional bond you make with them even stronger.
Boy does Todd like to play with those emotional bonds. I lost track of the number of times my nails dug deeply into my kindle cover when something happened to a character I really liked, only to a few chapters later find out that the rollercoaster hadn’t quite reached the platform yet and my heart had a few more loop the loops to take.
You can tell this book has been expertly researched. Not least the method the voices use to bring about mans downfall. I believed every word of it. Small things like the geography and the way the characters speak are also bang on the money.
Defender contains some harrowing depictions of violence and in particular sexual violence. One scene close to the beginning in the motel will stay with you long after you put the book down. It’s not there for the sake of it though, and its not there for cheap thrills. It really serves to remind you of the real dangers the characters face, now society has gone to hell in a handbasket.
This is so much more impressive as this is Gemma Todd’s debut novel. Her writing style for me bares more comparison to Stephen King than the plot of Defender does to his works. Her writing has ( if you pardon the pun) a real Voice all of its own and a confidence that just oozes from the page. I can’t wait for the rest of this series.
It’s close to the end of January as I write this and I’ll be very surprised if I read a book better than Defender this year. It’s that good. Listen to the little voice in your head telling you to buy this today.
Available to buy from Amazon in Hardback here
Available to buy from Amazon for Kindle here