First published in May of 2018, ‘Hunted’ formed the second instalment in British author G.X. Todd’s four-part post-apocalyptic series entitled ‘The Voices’.

DLS Synopsis:
Posy had left Dumont and Doc behind in Vicksburg and had gotten as far away as he could.  But he wasn’t alone.  He’d never be alone again.  Because the Other had come with him.

Now Posy was being driven by this inner voice.  A voice that was gnawing away at his sanity.  Relentlessly driving him on.  Pushing him and his followers across the sun-scorched land and through the dark shadows of the night.

They called him Not-Posy for they all saw the Other that was within him.  The all-consuming power that pushed them on.  He’d shared with them his Hide and Go Seek List.  Four individuals who were out there somewhere.  Four survivors in this ravaged world who Not-Posy would stop at nothing to find.  The list consisted of three women known simply as Red, Lacey and Alex, and an unknown man who had travelled with them.  It wasn’t much to go on.  But Not-Posy was more than determined.  He was relentless.  And the voice that pushed him onwards, that used his flesh and blood like a puppet, would not rest until it found them.

Meanwhile, holed-up in an old inn along the Norwood Cove, a group of eleven-strong survivors, waited.  It had been a slow gathering, one that had started over a thousand miles away in Fort Worth, and had continued to the beaches of South Carolina.  But they were here now.  Together.  Waiting for Albus’ word.  Although Albus was a boy with no voice of his own.  A boy born without a tongue, with stumps for hands.  But it had been he who’d drawn them together.  His pull.  His mission.  Find the martyr and protect her – whatever the cost.

The time had come for them to leave the safety of the inn.  Somehow, across hundreds of miles of blighted, empty roads and ruined cities, they had to locate the one Albus’ sister, Ruby, had called the martyr.   Albus knew the girl travelled with companions.  But the one who had been protecting them was now gone.

Albus and his group had to locate the martyr and her companions before someone else did.  Someone Albus knew wanted to find them just as desperately as he did.  Someone who had his own followers who would be drawing close very, very soon.

Elsewhere, across the desolate dusty land and endlessly silent streets, Lacey knew that her and her companions were in danger.  Voice had told her so.  So they had to keep their heads down.  Travel lightly.  Hide whenever they heard or saw movement.  Stay alert.  Stay alive.

Lacey now had her eight-year-old niece, Addison to protect.  They also had Alex.  And Alex was tough.

But the question still remained - who was following them?  The things Voice said he could hear worried Lacey. What did it all mean for Addison?  What would they do if the net they felt closing in on them suddenly snatched them up?  Where would they hide when all the hiding places in the world were ripped open and turned inside out?  Where would any of them go?

In this desolate ungodly new world, one thing was for sure…time was running out for them all…

DLS Review:
Following on from the first book in this particular series was never going to be easy.  With one of the principal protagonists out of the equation for all intents and purposes, simply picking up from where ‘Defender’ (2017) left off had more than a few pitfalls to cope with.  Todd clearly knew this, and so with ‘Hunted’ the author’s taken the story down a purposefully different pathway.

Rather than simply picking up from precisely where
Defender’ (2017) concluded, we’re instead introduced to a whole heap of new characters to ease us into this second book.  Indeed, the very bones of this second book feel entirely different to Book One.  And, althoughDefender(2017) was one mother-humping blinder of a post-apocalyptic novel, treading along a different route for the second instalment is, in this reviewer’s opinion, no bad thing.

Here we have a whole new group of survivors to become acquainted with.  Eleven strong (including a newborn child they find along the way) this group adds a whole new dynamic to the unfolding story.  In fact, the book feels as though it’s segmented into three distinct storylines which are gradually converging.  You have Albus and his group, holed-up in their out-of-the-way inn along the sandy seafront, then there’s Lacey, Alex and Addison, trying their level best to survive, and finally you have Posy (or should I say Not-Posy) and his band of merciless followers.

It’s very much a cat and mouse story.  The stalker and the stalked.  There’s a constant feeling of motion behind the tale – pushing you forever onwards with an urgent momentum.  But that’s not where the real strength in the book comes from.  It’s undeniably with the characters.  Where
Defender (2017) had a relatively close-knit cast of characters behind it, ‘Hunted’ has instead opened out the playing field considerably.  Now we have large groups of individuals, trudging across the dusty landscape, searching and hunting as they go.  Within these groups, pretty much every character has their own part to play.  They all have their own characterisation, their own unique characteristics, and their own voice (so to speak).

Parallels between the
Defender (2017) and Stephen King’s classic post-apocalyptic novel ‘The Stand’ (1978) were drawn by many readers and reviewers alike.  I can’t deny there were a few similarities with certain aspects in the first book.  However, this second instalment draws far closer comparisons.  The drawing together of survivors to play out their individual roles for an almost unspoken task.  The converging of the groups.  The whole good versus evil behind it all.  The way in which this evil corrupts its ‘host’ and the misguided followers it manages to entrap in its obsessive hunt.  It’s all very, undeniably ‘The Stand’ (1978).

However, there’s far more motion turning the cogs of ‘Hunted’ than in King’s epic masterpiece.  The similarities are there, but the very essence behind this tale is inordinately different.  There’s absolutely no stationary ‘setting up for a new life’ within the tale.  No hint of a rebuilding.  Instead the story is one-hundred-percent focussed on the mission.  On the cat and mouse hunt.

Although the ‘Voices’ are explored and defined far more in this second instalment, there’s still a whole heap of uncovered mystery left within the very concept of the books.  This works entirely in the favour of the book, and in a larger part, the series as a whole.  It keeps you guessing.  Keeps you scratching around in the dusty dirt for further clues behind it all.  Don’t get me wrong, you do find a few dirt-encrusted nuggets along the way within this second book, but nothing that comes anywhere near providing a complete understanding of the Voices, their purpose, and a fuller picture of the plot at hand.

But one thing’s for certain.  The book, together with the first instalment, possess a very real sense of epicness about them.  The plot feels as grandiose as the backdrop calls for.  It’s bleak and harsh and hard-going from the outset, and throughout the length of the book, this unrelenting brutality doesn’t subside for one second.  In fact, from start to finish the book’s ferociously paced and utterly uncompromising in its delivery.

There’s no denying that with this second instalment in the Voices series, Todd has brought a whole new level of grittiness to the table.  From the moment you pick up the book you’ll feel the scorching sun on your back and the blisters under your feet, as you follow in the footsteps of these three groups of survivors as they edge closer and closer.  It’s a harsh, unforgiving slog across a barren post-apocalyptic landscape, where violence is now the number one rule.

This is proper blood, sweat and tears post-apocalyptic fiction.  This is heartache and head-pounding endurance put to paper.  It exposes the cruel, unforgiving brutality of mankind as it’s brought to the surface within the pressure-cooker of unrestrained madness.  It’s another strong stride in a story that’ll grip you with the adrenaline-pumping momentum behind it.  This is turning into one hell of a story.  This is what it is to truly be hunted.

The novel runs for a total of 484 pages.

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘The Voices’ instalments:

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