In a world where long drinks are in short supply, a stranger listens to the voice in his head telling him to buy a lemonade from the girl sitting on a dusty road.

The moment locks them together.

Here and now it's dangerous to listen to your inner voice. Those who do, keep it quiet.

These voices have purpose.

And when Pilgrim meets Lacey, there is a reason. He just doesn't know it yet.

Defender pulls you on a wild ride to a place where the voices in your head will save or slaughter you.

Our Review

This book is the first book in a series and I cannot wait to read the next one as this is the best dystopian novel I have read for a long time.

The book begins with a letter by a young girl named Ruby,

“Dear stranger,

You and I will never meet. This letter is our only connection.” The letter goes on to say “I expect this letter will find you in despair, or lonely, or lost. That is how we live now. We all have all become strangers to each other and, worse still: enemies. The human spirit that once tethered us together has now divided us as surely as any ocean ever could. “

Ruby was once a carer and looked after a man named Mike who predicted the events that unfolded later. The abnormal thing about Mike…was that he spoke to a voice in his head called Jonah, and he had done for sixty years.

Ruby got on really well with Mike and talked to him a lot and he warned her, soon countless other voices would come, destructive voices, and many people would die, but that she shouldn’t be afraid because it was the first step to a bigger, brighter world.

When he died Mike gave Jonah to Ruby so she had a voice of her own and a friend.

Ruby continues, Now, the moral to all this, Dear stranger, is simple: that wisdom can sometimes be mistaken for craziness, and that strangers can often be friends in disguise.

The story mostly focuses on a man named Pilgrim and a young girl named Lacey. Pilgrim is a bit of a loner and is travelling on a motorbike through Texas when we are first introduced to him.

“At the beginning, Pilgrim missed a great many things, things that were by their very nature impossible not to miss once they were gone. Imagining a hunk of cooked cow, for example, could torture a person...Quite often there was an absence of such culinary cravings, but those times were worse, for the ghost of loved ones and more deep seated longings would creep around him instead.”

Via Pilgrim we learn what it is like to be one of the people living with voices in your head.

”Pilgrim closed his eyes. Not because his peace had been broken, but because any sense of peace he ever hoped to achieve would only be an illusion, for Voice was always with him and always would be. He was demon and angel and conscience all wrapped up in one, and there was no escaping him.”

It is also via Pilgrim we learn about the way the world works now, Most animals had learned that humans weren’t be trusted anymore, and knew to keep well out of reach or else chance getting served up as shish kebab.

Pilgrim first meets Lacey when he is driving along and spots a young girl sat next to a sign advertising the sale of homemade lemonade and he decides to stop. Lacey talks him into driving her to Vicksburg to find her sister Karey and her niece Addison.

Lacey has led a sheltered life since the world changed seven years previously. Her grandma had protected her from the harsh reality of the outside world whilst also teaching her how to survive on her own. On the day Lacey meets Pilgrim she has decided she can’t stand living on her own anymore and she needs to go find her sister.  In the cold sitting room, Lacey sighed and slipped her Grammy’s glasses back on, transforming the pictures into a myopic blur. Sometimes, looking at those familiar faces made the house feel emptier, the silence weighing a thousand times heavier.

Lacey’s grandmother had died three months earlier and Lacey knows her grandma would not have been happy with her plan to leave. Lacey didn’t see as she had any choice.  Not if she wanted to keep hold of her sanity. Not if she ever wanted to see her sister ever again. There was only so much hunger and silence a girl could take.

Along the way to Vicksburg they hear tales of a man who collects people with voices in their heads and with a simple whisper entices them to kill their friends and family. Wherever he goes destruction follows, when he leaves he burns town and villages to the ground.

As well as their many trials they face together along the way Pilgrim softens around the edges and Lacey learns how to take care of herself outside of her grandmother’s home. Whilst on their journey they meet a dying girl, who tells Pilgrim ‘defend her ’or ‘defender.’ Pilgrim believes she is talking about Lacey and makes it his mission to defend her.

This book made me laugh and cry and was impossible to put down until I had finished.

Our Final Rating...

Our Rating

  • Currently 5/5

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