REVIEW: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.

“If there’s one thing we should have learned by now, it’s that we’re not the greatest thing in the universe, certainly not the smartest. Seems logical there’d be a great many things in it we can’t comprehend.”

After enjoying Sleeping Giants so much, I had high expectations for Waking Gods and it didn’t disappoint. Set 10 years after Themis was recovered, another robot has mysteriously appeared in the middle of London with unknown intentions. Is it friend or foe? It’s up to Rose and the EDC, using Themis piloted by Kara and Vincent, to deal with this new development. The plot escalates quickly and events take a dark turn but Neuvel’s writing remains humorous, especially via the character of the nameless interviewer.

“You are probably the one person on this Earth I am the least inclined to please, and if anyone had told me a year ago that I would grant you access to everything you dreamed of, I would have told them … Well, I suppose this is as close as we will ever get to hell freezing over.”

The events in this book are much darker than those in Sleeping Giants, but the epistolary format keeps the whole thing surprisingly light. Despite switching between numerous characters, it was easy to get to know the essence and personality of each. The only character I didn’t find plausible was the ten-year-old Eva, who seemed to have a vocabulary way beyond her years. I was so upset by the deaths of my two favourite characters but, with the stakes being much higher, it was inevitable that some of the characters would die in their attempt to save the world. 

“You know I love you, right? I don’t tell you often because your ego would get even bigger and maybe implode and create a black hole. I don’t want to destroy the universe. But I do. Love you, that is.”

The cliffhanger ending sets up the next book with a very interesting turn of events. I can’t wait to read about what happens next with Themis and the characters I’ve grown to love. The Themis Files are perfect for those who love science-fiction and those who think they don’t. Prior to reading these, I would have said that science-fiction wasn’t for me but these books have changed that and I can’t wait to explore this new genre.

This lived up to my high expectations and the cliffhanger ending has me desperate for the next book.

(Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads)

   About the Author

Sylvain Neuvel dropped out of high school at age 15. Along the way, he has been a journalist, worked in soil decontamination, sold ice cream in California, and peddled furniture across Canada. He received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago. He taught linguistics in India, and worked as a software engineer in Montreal. He is also a certified translator, though he wishes he were an astronaut. He likes to tinker, dabbles in robotics and is somewhat obsessed with Halloween. He absolutely loves toys; his girlfriend would have him believe that he has too many, so he writes about aliens and giant robots as a blatant excuse to build action figures (for his son, of course). 

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