Tag Archives: G. X. Todd

Defender by G. X. Todd

defender

Defender is one of the novels I picked up at February’s Headline Blogger Evening, and one that I’ve been looking forward to reading since then.

It is a post-apocalyptic novel in which the cause of our demise isn’t entirely clear.  Eight years ago, people began hearing voices.  Whether real or a mass auditory hallucination, the voices caused the majority of people to kill themselves, leaving behind a few individuals who now fend for themselves as well as they can.

Lacey is sixteen, and was shielded from much of what was going on eight years earlier by her grandmother.  Now alone, she now wants to travel from her home in Texas to Mississippi to find her sister, who she hasn’t heard from for years and who may or may not have survived.

Pilgrim, as his name suggests, has spent the last eight years travelling and avoiding other people, his only company the voice in his head.  But when he comes across Lacey, he is encouraged by this internal voice to help her, and the two set out on Lacey’s quest, falling into a whole world of trouble along the way.

Given Lacey’s age and the recent trend for post-apocalyptic novels to be aimed towards the young adult market, you might expect Defender to also fall into this category.  It doesn’t.  This is a dark and often brutal story which very much satisfied my need for a bleak apocalypse to sink my teeth into.  Given the lawlessness of the world as it is presented here, there are those who seek to take advantage of those weaker than themselves, and Lacey and Pilgrim run into some thoroughly bad people on their journey.  It’s not all doom and gloom, however, and Todd throws in a bit of dark, wry  humour along the way to lighten the tone.

Even now that I finished the novel, I’m not sure how I feel about Lacey.  She’s young and has been sheltered from much of what has happened in the world, and so comes across as being extremely naïve, and she seems a little too pure and wholesome to survive in a world such as this.  Survive she has though, which suggests an inner resilience, and whilst I personally prefer protagonists who are a little more kick-ass, she was certainly an original character and quite different to the sort you usually find in novels of this kind.  She’s in for some rough times, however, and whilst the reader knows that there’s something special about her, it’s not clear what it is at this stage.  I think it will be interesting to see how she develops as the series progresses.

If I didn’t really warm to Lacey, I made up for it in my love of Pilgrim, however.  Pilgrim is exactly the kind of lone wolf style character that I like – someone who doesn’t look for trouble, but is more than capable than dealing with it if, and when, it comes looking for him.  Ha also has excellent taste in books.

Defender is a novel in which the cause of the end isn’t explained, at least not in this first instalment.  No one knows where the voices came from or why the result was as it was, and the little that people do know is largely rumour and hearsay.  Whilst some people may find this a little frustrating and may want to know the how and why, I thought that this was reflective of how it would be if such a thing were to actually happen.  With no communication infrastructure left, we’d have no way of knowing what has happened elsewhere, or how, or why, and we’d have to try to piece things together from the snippets of information that we came across.  And this isn’t really a novel about the end of the world – it’s a novel about how those who survive it manage to deal with the aftermath, and I think that Todd did a brilliant job of exploring how such a world might look, and what people would need to do to survive, and that is exactly why I love this kind of novel so much.

Defender is the first novel in a planned series of four, and as such it poses a great many questions whilst answering very few of them.  There is clearly a bigger story to be revealed, however, and I’m expecting another fantastic read when the sequel, Hunted, is published in January 2018 – I already have it on pre-order! 😃

Many thanks to the publisher, Headline, for my copy of Defender, and to Gemma for taking the time to talk books and things with me at the blogger event.

Rating: ★★★★★

Headline Blogger Night 2017

On Thursday, I was lucky enough to attend a blogger night hosted by Headline at Carmelite House on Victoria Embankment in London.  This was my second visit to the wonderful sixth floor of Carmelite House with it’s famous (amongst the blogging world at least) rooftop terrace, although the doors to the terrace were kept firmly shut due to the miserable weather.

I’m always quite nervous about attending these kinds of events – I often find it difficult to initiate a conversation with people I don’t know, and I don’t like inviting myself into a group, which is often the best way to start talking to people.

I needn’t have worried, however – the Headline team were extremely welcoming, and ushered people around to make sure that everyone had the opportunity to meet the authors in attendance.  Additionally, book bloggers are a lovely bunch of people, and I don’t think that anyone was left standing on their own for very long 🙂

I was absolutely delighted to meet Felicia Yap, who’s novel Yesterday will be published in August.  I picked up a sampler for this novel, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am.  I’m more than willing to beg for a proof of this when they become available!  And isn’t this cover glorious!?

yesterday

I also enjoyed meeting Gemma Todd, whose novel Defender I’m extremely excited about – it sounds very much like my kind of thing – as well as Colette McBeth, Nikola Scott, Mary Torjussen and Julia Crouch.

As well as the wonderful company, wine and nibbles, there were plenty of books available.  I felt that I showed considerable restraint in only picking up four titles (plus the one in the goodie bag!) – I was tempted to take more, but was conscious of the fact that I’d have to carry them back to the train.  Note to self – take a backpack next time.  Tote bags are great, but loading up on weighty tomes just gives you a bad shoulder, particularly when you have to run for your train!


These are the books that I picked up:

Defender by G. X. Todd

the-defender

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.


The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

the-ninth-rain

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold.  Now its streets are stalked by wolves.  Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip.  Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out.  Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war.  For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall…


An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth

an-act-of-silence

These are the facts I collect.

My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar.  She went home with him where they had sex.  They next morning she was found in an allotment.

Mariela is dead.

Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning

Linda Moscow: loving mother to Gabriel.  Linda promised herself years ago that she would never let her son down again.  Even if it means going against everything she believes in – she will do anything to protect him.  She owes him that much.

Gabriel Miller: the prodigal son.  He only ever wanted his mother’s love, but growing up he always seemed to do the wrong thing.  If his mother could only see the bad in him – how could he possibly be good?

How far will a mother go to save her son?  Linda’s decision might save Gabriel, but it will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of others.  What would you do if faced with the same impossible choice?


Gone Without a Trace by Mary Torjussen

gone-without-a-trace

You leave for work one morning.  Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.  His belongings have disappeared.  He hasn’t been at work for weeks.  It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.  Because just as you are searching for him, someone is also watching you.


As well as providing a selection of books for bloggers (and authors!) to help themselves to, goodie bags were also available containing some wonderful little treats, as well as another book!

Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti

keep-me-safe

When Anna’s partner walks away from their relationship, she is shattered.  But it is her little girl Ava who takes it hardest of all.  The six-year-old falls silent for three days.  When she does speak, her words are troubling.  Ava wants to go home.  To a place called Seal.  To her other mother.

Anna knows to unravel the mystery she must find Seal and take Ava there.  She hopes this tiny island will unlock her daughter’s memories.  But could it also offer a new life… and unexpected love… for Anna too?


Many thanks to Georgina Moore, Millie Seaward and the rest of the Headline crew for hosting such a lovely event.