Earlier this year, while attending Edge-Lit in Derby, I was lucky enough to be introduced to new author G X Todd. In short, she had a forthcoming book to push and I'm a reviewer so it was to be expected. Ms. Todd had a pamphlet which contained the opening pages of Defender and some other promotional bits and bobs. On the way home I opened said pamphlet and started to read.
Then I read it again.
When I got up the next morning I read it again, just to be sure.
Sometimes you just know when something comes along that is a bit special, and trust me, Defender is more than a bit special. That same day I got in touch with the author and made sure I could get my hands on a review copy when one became available. In due time one arrived - time to see if the whole thing matched up to the teaser.
The story is set seven years after an 'event' which saw a lot of the people suddenly hear a voice in their head that encouraged them to kill either themselves or each other. As a result of this 'event' the America in which this story is set is a much emptier place. There is a lot of mistrust, for obvious reasons - you can't always know who hears the voices and who doesn't.
Our heroes are Lacey, a 16 year old with a likeable attitude and Pilgrim, a solitary biker (who I saw as a cross between Jason Statham and The Undertaker). Two total opposites who are forced to get along when Lacey convinces Pilgrim to help her get to her sister's house 600 miles away.
At first it seemed a very easy going journey while I got to know the characters and get used to the voice in Pilgrim's head but then, around the 50 page mark (of 450 pages) everything exploded in a wealth of violence and horror and the whole pace of the story changed. From there on in it was a race to the end while not wanting it to be over. A lot of the characters we meet later in the story carry their own woes and troubles, making for an uncomfortable read at times - but, hey, it's the end of the world as we know it and (no matter what REM tell us) we're not expected to feel fine.
It will be compared, I guess, to the likes of King's 'The Stand' but for me there is one major difference - as much as I have enjoyed what I read of The Stand I have yet to finish it. Defender I just devoured.
G X Todd has written something a bit special here and, trust me, you are going to be hearing a lot about her and about Defender in 2017. G X Todd is not just going to be 'The Next Big Thing', she's going to be the benchmark for other 'Next Big Things'
And she drives a massive mobile library - how cool is that?????
So, I'm giving Defender 5* and marking it as one to watch for 2017.
Release date for Defender is January 12th 2017