Review: “Defenders” by Will McIntosh

defendersDefenders by Will McIntosh. 512 pages. Orbit Books.

It’s hard to write an alien invasion story that hasn’t been already written. They’re like westerns. It would seem that so many variations have already been tried that there’s nothing new under the sun.

That’s why it’s always good when you can find one that is fresh, exciting, easy to read…and keeps you guessing.

McIntosh creates a world where the earth has been invaded by starfish-like creatures who can read our minds. That creates problems when we go to war with them. They already know our strategy, what our weaknesses are, and even where we are going to aim our guns. We’re losing the war, and losing big.

Of course, mankind turns to science to resolve the problem before we are extinct, and they do. Thanks to the wonders of genetic research, they are able to create a race of super-soldiers, sixteen feet tall, bred for combat, and oblivious to the aliens’ mind-reading capability. Soon we have the aliens on the run.

But what do you do with a race of 16-foot aggressive super-soldiers when there is no longer a war? The quandary turns into a major issue, and we end up fighting the race of beings we created.

What’s fun is when the story becomes one of humanity deciding between the race we created, and the alien race that invaded and tried to conquer us. And in 512 pages, it’s not until the very last few pages that the reader has even an inkling as to how it’s going to turn out. In addition, the story, even at 512 pages, is a fast read.

If there were any weakness in this story, it’s probably the characterization. That’s a little weak, I think. But those who read this book for the premise will not be disappointed.

I give it four and a half out of five stars.