Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Survivors

by G. X. Todd

The third instalment of the Voices series digs deeper into the post-apocalyptic world where the voices people hear in their heads take on a life and direction of their own. Having teased readers about whether this is an alien invasion, supernatural phenomenon, or something else, in Survivors it finally seems as if the author will provide some answers.

The story starts with a flashback prequel, set in a secure psychiatric hospital before the crisis. Jackson is a young man who hears a voice, and who is trapped in an increasingly violent and crowded ward. He conspires with fellow inmates to leave as the wardens, nurses, and outside world go crazy.

Then we return to Pilgrim's story as he recovers from a serious injury and significant memory loss. He finds himself on the ground with a bad shoulder and a lump in his skull, as well as an inability to read. What he does know is that he needs to find his friend Lacey, who he believes holds the key to understanding what has happened to the world, and to winning the battles to come.

As Pilgrim travels he picks up clues about what has happened before, and about Lacey and her sister. The timeline of Survivors is disjointed, with a number of flashbacks included as Pilgrim recalls past events, gradually building up the picture of his struggles for survival.

We meet Abernathy, a cunning and self-interested woman from Pilgrim's past. It's unclear how much he can trust her, or what motivates her, so there's always plenty of tension when the story involves this volatile character.

The America of the Voices universe is one filled with cultish gangs, guns, and suspicions. Civilisation has broken down with the loss of great numbers of the population, but the need for food, shelter, and sanitation aren't yet people's biggest threats to survival. Instead, it is each other. People are divided between those who hear voices and those who don't, and by fanatical quests for ways to remove the voices or for power over those who remain. There is increasing urgency as few humans are left, and the only law is the law people make for themselves.

Survivors tempts us with the promise of an explanation for the madness gripping the author's world. There is a sense of threads of narrative coming together, as certain characters reunite and there are major revelations about the voices. And it's fun getting there. The laconic Pilgrim is my favourite character, with the wry humour of his internal Voice. However, this novel isn't the end of the series. Based on how much is revealed in this part, it seems likely the next novel will wrap the story up.

So far it's an engrossing read mixing exciting escapes, rescues, and troublemaking with interesting characters. In some ways it's quite low magic, and it owes much of its drama to human interaction rather than what the voices do. This means the story is believable and raw, with a hard-hitting punch that left me wanting to know how it all ends.

9th August 2019

Book Details

Year: 2019

Categories: Books

  Fantasy
 
  Bleak
  Male Protagonist  
  Not For The Squeamish  

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5 star rating

Review ©

Source: ARC

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