Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-9-30-37-am6 million people dead… Countries bombing their own people… Chemical warfare… Green, buggy goo… all facets of Neuvel’s Waking Gods.

The cliffhanger in the epilogue of Book 1, Sleeping Giants, is answered in the first few sections of the book, which will appease many readers. All characters from the first book are also included, a loyal continuation of the plot; however, the story takes a dire twist early on when more of Themis’s kind materialize on earth, and it appears they may not all be friendly…

For more on Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel, due to be published by Random House (Ballantine) in April 2017, please continue.

Overall, the narrative is an engrossing look at what could happen during current times if extraterrestrial artifacts are unearthed. In Sleeping Giants, parts of a giant woman-esque robot are unearthed and she is named Themis (thus the namesake of the series “Themis Files”). After various events occur, some of which are catastrophic, the world responds. Waking Gods, without giving away the details of either book, is the continuation of that response.

Every reader should find one character to draw him or her into the story. My personal favorite is Mr. Burns, an enigmatic and secretive character that reveals more about the alien life that has left behind these robots that are puzzling humankind. However, those inclined toward science may find the ethical conflicts between Ms. Pompanoui and… pretty much everyone else… to be an interesting point for reflection. The characters themselves reveal the true fragility of our existence as human beings, whether one likes to think those thoughts on a regular basis or not. There are also incredible quotes to digest about our existence in terms of souls, which I did not expect. I love that a book with a topic I would never expect to get me thinking about the nature of my soul can send me on a metaphysical whirlwind of thought with just one sentence, which is another reason I enjoy this series so much.

My favorite aspect of this series, however, is the nature of the writing. The book is not written in typical fiction prose; it is a series of interviews, mission and personal logs (similar to World War Z and The Martian). This may seem as if it would be impersonal to readers and perhaps lack detail, but this is actually a very creative opportunity to use inference as a reader. For me, it was nice to be able to learn about characters without them always directly stating their personality (or having a third person omniscient narrator tell me). I appreciated this challenge, even if it wasn’t very difficult. It was, at times, even more telling than traditional prose.

As for the plot of the second Themis files book, I felt some parts were cliché or archetypal, such as a secretive character giving his life story right before his death. Additionally, I didn’t feel the ending was nearly as gripping as the previous book. However, the book itself offered so many interesting twists from the first book while simultaneously taking the plot in an entirely new direction (no pun intended, but the ending certainly leaves the 3rd book going in a new direction, too).

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting sci-fi series. Even those who aren’t used to ci-fi books or even those who typically don’t enjoy sci-fi books will likely enjoy this series.

I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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