Defender and Hunted are the first two books in The Voices series. My suggestion is to read them as I have done - buy both and read them in succession, so then you don't need to recap on the story of the first one before you read the second. Obviously I then have to wait to read books three and four, as this is a quartet. BUT there is no way I could have waited until all four books were published to start reading this series!
Defender: Publisher's description
In a world where long drinks are in short supply, it's dangerous to listen to your inner voice.
Those who do, keep it quiet.
But one man listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.
There is a reason why Pilgrim and Lacey must cross paths.
They just don't know it yet . . .
Hunted: Publisher's description
The birds are flying. The birds are flocking. The birds sense the red skies are coming.
One man is driven by an inner voice that isn't his - this Other is chewing at his sanity like a jackal with a bone and has one purpose.
To find the voice hiding in the girl.
She has no one to defend her now.
But in an inn by the sea, a boy with no tongue and no voice gathers his warriors. Albus must find the girl, Lacey . . . before the Other does.
And finish the work his sister Ruby began.
I enjoyed both Defender and Hunted, though they did provide a slightly different reading experience each time. The writing in both books is stunning, with descriptions that made me startle, grimace, laugh and cry. Author GX Todd left me feeling, tasting, hearing and seeing everything she described, vividly in my own head as if I had a voice in there too. The books are graphic, violent and bloody - so they are not always an easy read - but also compelling, gripping and heartbreaking. They are filled with hope and emotion, as people begin to build relationships, forge friendships and develop communities. The characters are real and convincing - ordinary people pitted against the dangers of a broken society, with an unknown force (or voices) in control.
In Defender, we're pulled into a world where some people can hear (and even talk to) their inner voice. We're introduced to Lacey, a girl on the cusp of adulthood, and Pilgrim, a mysterious man with a mysterious past and an inner voice with attitude. The book looks at the worst (and sometimes best) side of human nature, as people fight for survival in a post-apocalyptic setting. The world has been destroyed by human behaviour, triggered by voices in people's heads, leaving no leadership, authority figures or even organised society. The voices in The Defender are far more than a conscience - they are independent, with the power to lead you to kill yourself and others. Niggling at you, urging you, driving you crazy - with no escape. But it seems that not all voices are bad - and not all voices are equal.
Defender is compelling and addictive, with definite reminders of The Walking Dead, of which I am a huge fan. Straight away, we're introduced to the main characters through vivid descriptions, not just of their outward appearances but their inner thoughts too. I guess it helps when there's someone else inside their head for them to talk to - though not everyone has an inner voice. Defender is certainly an action-packed thriller, with each chapter reading like an episode of a TV series. And it left me hungry for more, so it was just as well I had Hunted waiting patiently on my Kindle.
Hunted follows on from Defender, with tension mounting as some of the original characters continue along their journey, running from danger and trying to keep those around them safe. They are being hunted by new characters, some good and some bad - though it's not actually clear which are which until later on in the book. No one knows where the voices have come from, why they exist or what they want. But it's clear that some, if not all, have their own agenda, leading the characters along a twisty, and often dangerous, path until they all converge.
Hunted wasn't what I expected at first, I'm not going to lie. It starts off with different characters to Defender, which left me somewhat confused, trying to keep track of them. It also started off at a slower pace, setting the scene and introducing each of the character groups in turn. Yet despite feeling a little lost, I ploughed on and eventually couldn't put this book down either, as the tension and action reached full throttle. As with Defender, Hunted is filled with amazing descriptive writing, with plenty of sadness, humour, shocks and surprises amid the darkness. Eventually old and new characters collided, with plenty of sparks and an explosive ending. While Hunted doesn't necessarily answer many questions or tie up many loose ends, some things started to make sense, though this then led to more questions circulating around in my head.
Defender and Hunted have definitely left me wanting more, and I could certainly hear my own 'inner voices' by the time I turned the final page! I can't wait for the next instalment in The Voices series!
Defender was published by Headline on 12 January 2017.
Hunted is being published by Headline on 31 May 2018.