BOOK REVIEW: Defender by G.X. Todd
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
The theory behind the bicameral mind argues that there was not such a thing as an internal mindscape, that we didn’t learn to internalise our thoughts until well after the Bible was written (sources such as Homer’s Iliad bear no evidence of ‘self-conscious introspection’). Only an external dialogue existed between people.
Bicameral man heard auditory hallucinations. He believed them to be gods.
The premise of Defender is a fascinating one, there’s no denying that:
What if the voice in your head didn’t belong to you?
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.
Defender by G X Todd is an imaginative thriller that draws on influences from Stephen King, Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman to create a new world – where the biggest threat mankind faces is from the voices inside your own head. If you loved The Stand, you’ll love Defender, the first in a four part series.
It sounds like it might have some of the same elements as Bird Box, with, of course, a decent helping of The Stand, and supposedly a little Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman. The blurb talks a mean game.
And sadly the book doesn’t live up to it.
What the blurb doesn’t tell you is that the story takes place seven years after the voices started making people kill themselves en masse, so the world we enter is more akin to reading part two of The Passage, without first having read part 1, picking up when the country is largely deserted, rather than while there are still enough people for there to really be any kind of battle between those who can hear voices and those who cannot. The bicameral concept is there as background more than anything, rather than something central to the plot. It features, and adds value to some characters, it’s the catalyst for the world of Defender being the way it is, but essentially this is a book about a world gone mad, and the reader has missed all the fun stuff.
Beyond the initial world-building in this book, there just wasn’t much character to it. There were some cute and funny moments and some deliciously gory descriptions, but the sense of foreboding just never amounts to anything.
This is your typical story of “world goes to hell, certain groups gather things together to make them stronger, at some point the ‘good guys’ meet or are caught by the stronger, more established ‘bad guys’ and the readers and characters are left to wonder how they’re ever going to get out of the seemingly inescapable situation” and it didn’t break the mould to make it stand apart from the other stories in this vein.
Defender, when compared to The Passage, just didn’t have a lot going for it, and one can’t help but compare the two:
- The former occupies a world not unlike that of the latter
- One of the main characters in the former has the same name as one of the main supporting characters in the latter
- They’re published by the same company, which begs the question, “were they trying to make us subconsciously link the two?” And if so, why mention The Stand and all those other authors who don’t seem to feel like they exist in the same genre as this, rather than, say, The Passage and The Fireman (another highly-anticipated book that dissapointed, but still had a lot more going on than Defender)?
When you also consider the story as a whole, and add in the super secretive nature of one of the main characters while one of the others is super naive and pure, one can’t help but feel like the author grabbed a whole heap of tropes (and character names) she liked from other books and smooshed them all together to create an interestingly-themed but rather boring and uneventful story.
I will be interested in reading the future books, hoping we might get a better picture of what happened in the past, but I don’t anticipate wanting to re-read this book in the future.
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