PrintE-mail Written by Nick Blackshaw

Defender is the debut novel of writer GX Todd and is the first in a four-part Voices series. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Stephen King, Clive Barker and Lee Childs, does Todd succeed in cracking a very crowded post-apocalyptic genre?

Defender brings the reader into a world in which the population has been affected with voices in their heads, starting out with just a handful of people but ever expanding into endless destruction and suicide amongst the human population. The story picks up with Pilgrim, an aptly named man of mystery, with some control over his ‘Voice’, who is travelling through a small town in Texas when he encounters Lacey, a young girl he meets over a glass of lemonade. However, when a shocking call from Lacey’s sister, Karey, is made, neither of them quite realises where this journey, and ultimately this partnership, is going to lead.

The novel is extremely refreshing in many respects. Todd uses imagery carefully, in that it enhances characters as opposed to washing them out with clichés; we don’t need to be told by his arrival that Pilgrim is the new (metaphorical) sheriff in town, instead, Todd wastes no time in getting on with the story, rather than being bogged down with nudges and winks for the reader’s benefit. Meanwhile, the story is structured to give Pilgrim and Lacey ample time to explore their perspective as characters, we see what they think of each other (also with the sardonic Voice in Pilgrim’s head providing an extra amusing commentary) and how they are responding to the situation they are being thrown into, it’s as if they creating mysteries for each other to solve, which keeps the reader wanting more. The only minor flaw in Defender is the pace moves so quickly in parts that other parts can drag in order to compensate, however, I can see this will be ironed out as the other three parts of the series are written and subsequently published.

Overall, Defenders shouldn’t be called ‘the next big thing’ because brilliant pieces of writing are massively spoilt with that so-called ‘accolade’, instead we’re going to call it what it is: a brilliant thriller with characters that work with each other and against each other in equal measure, they don’t need to spoon fed to the reader, the reader is with them all the way!



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