Published by Orbit Books on May 13, 2014
Genres: Adult SFF, Science fiction
Source: Publisher, Purchased
A new epic of alien invasion and human resistance by Hugo Award-winning author Will McIntosh.
Our Darkest Hour.
Our Only Hope.
The invaders came to claim earth as their own, overwhelming us with superior weapons and the ability to read our minds like open books.
Our only chance for survival was to engineer a new race of perfect soldiers to combat them. Seventeen feet tall, knowing and loving nothing but war, their minds closed to the aliens.
But these saviors could never be our servants. And what is done cannot be undone.
Defenders by Will McIntosh firmly proves in my mind that the man is a master. He writes people in such a way that ignites an instant connection with those characters. Whether it’s using situations that might be common to the every day reader or delving deeper into the human psyche and laying bare those thoughts, desires or fears that you have. The ones that you didn’t even recognize until BAM there they are right there in your face.
When I read the description I thought that the book was going to focus on these ‘Defenders’ but in actuality things start before the Defenders were even created. We see the invasion taking place at it’s height as well as at it’s start. Infact Part 1 of the book is “INVASION” jumping back and forth from June 2029 forward 9 months and then back again quite a few times. This could be jarring to a reader who doesn’t like this style of storytelling but it does come together quite nicely and it worked fine for me and usually I do have an issue with timejumping in a storyline.
The book has three main human perspectives:
Oliver Bowen – He is an interrogator tasked with finding a way to communicate with a captured Luyten, the alien telepathic starfish race that has invaded earth and is systematically wiping out the entire human population. The interaction between Oliver and ‘Five’ (what the captured Luyten calls himself) is really interesting. It’s uncanny to see how someone would react to another being who can quite literally read your mind and seems to know how you feel better than you do.
Kai Zhou – a 13 year old orphaned boy, we first see him trying to unsuccessfully steal food from one of the very few open convenience stores left in his town. He is starving, cold and all alone…until someone decides to help him. Later on Kai becomes tied to Oliver.
Lila Easterlin – another young teen, this girl is a Virtual Reality savy genius who now has no net to play with and so thus she starts to tinker with hardware and can create all manner of things or get old junk things working. She gives us the perspective of someone who still has some family ties left and she’s in the middle of one of the biggest cities still left uncaptured by the enemy Luyten.
There is a big jump forward in time of about 15 years after the invasion and war so we get to see the teens as adults and how people have adjusted. The first part of the book for me was entirely engrossing because even though it wasn’t extremely action packed all of the build up was fascinating. I do have to admit some of the pace slows down considerably but that doesn’t stop the momentum.
There is a lot of exploring of the human condition. What would people and the goverment do when faced when this kind of crisis. Would they be supportive of their fellow man or would it be everyone for themselves? Do you know yourself as well as you thought you did. Are your ideals and your thoughts of right and wrong something you would stick by when faced with this kind of catastrophe? What kind of freaking corners would you cut and how forward thinking could we as a people afford to be? There are just so much brain candy to be mulled over in Defenders and not all of it as you can tell is sweet. The way McIntosh blends story with characters is perfect. He gives these characters that are so well written coupled with worldbuilding and storytelling that is unparallelled. I can’t rant on enough about how much I’ve loved the two books of his I’ve read already. My friend teases me that I have a Will-o-mance going on because of how much I love his books. I’ve got no shame ok, he’s an amazing author! I would read this man’s grocery list. Ok maybe I’m going too far now. (See my Love Minus Eighty review and see me rant again about how amazing that book is.)
While I felt many of the major plot turns were obvious this didn’t take away from the sheer impact of the story. I think this was more about experiencing this crazy journey with Oliver, Kai and Lila rather than anticipating what was going to happen. I thought I knew where things were going and I was right but walking that road with these people was an emotional roller coaster that I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to miss.
I think I must have raved about this books to more strangers in the past week then I have any other book in the past 5 months. I like to rave – and the one thing I kept repeating “FREAKING ALIEN TELEPATHIC STARFISH!” – I just couldn’t get over how cool that was. It wasn’t the most important thing of course but come on…that’s pretty crazy. I love seeing the different forms aliens take in Science Fiction. But you have to remember – we humans genetically engineer a race of ‘Defenders’ in this book that are so different from humans you’ll be surprised to see just how. Will Mcintosh is definitely my favorite science fiction author and I’ve only read two of his books. Defenders was an emotionally powerful book as well as something that will get you thinking, just how humane are we?
*shazam!* I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are strictly my own.