Hunted by G X Todd

May 31, 2018

Please note Hunted is the second book in The Voices series. If you haven’t read Defender, then it is highly likely this review will contain spoilers. Consider yourself duly warned…

The birds are flying. The birds are flocking. The birds know where to find her.

One man is driven by a Voice that isn’t his. It’s killing his sanity and wrestling with it over and over like a jackal with a bone. He has one goal.

To find the girl with a Voice like his own. She has no one to defend her now. The hunt is on.

But in an Inn by the sea, a boy with no tongue and no Voice gathers his warriors. Albus must find Lacey … before the Other does. And finish the work his sister, Ruby began.

Hunted is the second book in the highly acclaimed Voices series, where the battle between Good and Evil rages on. And on.

I’ll begin with an admission. Now I know it might sound a bit weird, but if I could only read one type of story ever again it would mostly likely be some sort of apocalyptic fiction. Over the years I have read many variations of the end of the world and, I’ll be honest, I’ve loved them all. I’ve always found survivor’s tales thoroughly compelling. Part of it is my burning curiosity about what comes after an apocalyptic event. How do ordinary people exist in such extraordinary circumstances? I am particularly drawn to stories that perfectly balance the grand scale of Armageddon with the plight of individuals. It is an endlessly fascinating counterpoint. Last year I read Defender by G X Todd and it is a worthy addition to my doomsday reading list. Todd’s debut novel is reminiscent of other classic cataclysmic novels – The Stand, Swan Song, The Ship and Blood Crazy to name but a few. The sequel, Hunted, has now been released and I am pleased to report it is just as good.

When we catch up with Lacey she is on the run. Sadly, Pilgrim is gone, and dark forces are gathering against the young woman. Her only option is to keep moving. Her internal companion, Voice, is constantly pushing her forward. Voice knows there is trouble on the horizon and wants to do whatever is necessary to avoid it. Elsewhere a young man called Albus brings together his own group of survivors. Rather than focusing on destruction they want to build something new, something better. Their task seems all but insurmountable. There are so few prepared to try and save others. Albus knows that their success hinges on a very special young woman. If only he can find her in time. Todd’s writing taps into that sense of urgency.

Hunted and its predecessor are primarily character driven, and the narrative does a fantastic job of letting these characters evolve. Each and every person that you meet is on their own unique journey. What may seem like the smallest details are actually tantalizing hints of what is going on in the grander scheme of things. These elements all weave together seamlessly, building towards an incredible conclusion. There are a handful of revelatory moments, towards the novels end, that caught me completely by surprise. I’m always pleased when an author manages to totally blind side me like that. It makes for a far more rewarding reading experience.

The horrific elements in Hunted are also handled well. Many of the characters are so ground down by their Voices that acts of violence have become commonplace. A shocking event must be genuinely shocking to elicit any sort of reaction. These violent scenes put the reader off balance, just as all good horror should. If you knew what was coming next, you could prepare for it. How dull would that be? The main antagonist is Posy, or more specifically, the voice controlling Posy. Known as “The Other” or “Not Posy” this character is as evil as they come. It feels like he views humanity almost as an inconvenience. As far as he is concerned we are like bugs under a microscope. He is quite prepared to experiment on individuals to better understand how they tick. If that means literally picking them apart to do so, then so be it.

Not Posy aside, the ultimate evil remains unseen throughout. Only ever spoken about in hushed tones, there is something greater, more malevolent out there in the ruins of the world. An even larger battle is still to come. You get the distinct impression that events are building towards a final, decisive confrontation. By the time I got to the end of this book I was baying for more. The characters that remain are hurtling towards a pivotal moment in human existence. The outcome of this reckoning will determine where humanity will go next. I cannot wait to find out. In fact, I’ll go further, I need to find out. The sooner book three arrives, the better.

Hunted is everything that a good sequel should be. If you enjoyed Defender, then I know you’ll enjoy this novel. If you haven’t experienced G X Todd’s writing, then I would suggest you get yourself a copy of Defender and start there. Hunted will be waiting for you when you are done, I can guarantee you’ll want to dive right in. Modern apocalyptic fiction doesn’t get much better.

My musical accompaniment for Hunted is the soundtrack to the 2016 science fiction movie Midnight Special. David Wingo’s subtle yet memorable score is exactly the sort of thing I like to listen to when I am utterly engrossed in a story.

Hunted is published by Headline and is available now. Highly recommended.

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