Jan 5, 2017: The Fifth Defiance accomplishes within its first handful of chapters a feat that often requires entire arcs, if not longer: it made me want to learn more about the universe its author created. Who is Prevailer and what power allows her to subjugate the planet? What are the Troubleshooters? What’s a Sigil and why do Ultrahumans wear them?
These questions get answered throughout the course of the story and are replaced, naturally, by new ones. I won’t spoil any of the plot, but the story of the citizens in Prevailer’s America (their struggles, the complicated nature of their friendships/rivalries, the dog-eat-dog worldview that She cultivates) is consistently surprising and intriguing.
Each of the five main characters thinks so differently that the initial change is a bit jarring; after the introduction (an incredibly long introduction, by the way, so reader beware), you’ll probably be more capable of accepting the changes between, say, Fisher and Indulger, without needing to pause and reorient your thinking. Although, just when you think you understand all of the viewpoint characters, it seems that Walter is perfectly willing to throw in ANOTHER viewpoint character, just to frame the action by another character’s experience or mindset.
It’s great when it works and only average when it doesn’t; I don’t remember hitting a point where the POV system was actively bad, although I’m sure there were times when I wanted to finish hearing what a given character thought about a situation.
There’s a decent amount of story written and, between chapters, Walter posts a bit of literature that elaborates on the backstory in TFD: interviews, history lessons, fliers that detail exactly what powers a protagonist or antagonist might have. I was often just as interested in these interludes as I was in the chapters themselves, so definitely keep an eye out for these.
All in all, TFD is an engaging story, told through the eyes of five super-beings as they try to navigate a bruised and battered world. Even the things I didn’t necessarily like about the serial were so petty that I didn’t even bother to remember them; the things that I enjoyed were so considerable that I couldn’t see the flaws past them.
Definitely worth checking out.