Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

A twenty-story-tall metallic figure appeared in the middle of Regent’s Park this morning.

– Opening sentence

Waking Gods is the second book in The Themis Files; the sequel to Sleeping Giants (one of my top reads of 2016).

As a fan of science-fiction, I LOVED Sleeping Giants – but I think I loved Waking Gods even more! The second book is much darker, in a way that I wasn’t quite expecting, but it worked really well and was the right direction for book #2.

Waking Gods is written in the same style as Sleeping Giants, through a series of interviews, news reports and journal entries. It’s an unorthodox style that Neuvel pulls off really well, and it in no way hinders the reader experience.

While Sleeping Giants set the scene and gave us a lot of background information, Waking Gods needed no introduction and jumped straight into the action.

This made Waking Gods more intense and exciting, and Neuvel certainly increased the drama with this one! We are introduced to more giant alien robots, but this time they are piloted – and the pilots aren’t interested in introducing themselves.

Instead, one alien robot wipes out half of London in less than 5 seconds. Over 130,000 dead, without warning.

Imagine what that would do to the world.

Like I mentioned above, Waking Gods is told in a series of interviews and journal entries from  the leading scientists who discovered the original robot (known as Themis), as well as the general of the EDC (Earth Defence Corps).

Only passing comments are made about how the rest of the world – civilians – are reacting, which is something I think would have been interesting if more explored.

Military personnel and scientists are trained to deal with tense and difficult situations, but imagine how the world would truly react if faced with advanced alien technology that can wipe away half of a city as if it were nothing?

There would be mass panic, hysteria, uncontrollable rioting, etc. I think, as a writer, there’s a potential there to make some seriously emotional reading – to really dig deep into themes of humanity and survival – but Neuvel stays away from that.

Instead, he takes a different approach. It’s a bit more subtle, perhaps, but it’s still powerful stuff. Big themes such as the right to life and ‘playing God’ are concepts explored by Neuvel, but the more emotional impacts are made by a small handful of characters.

For example, millions of people are exterminated in Waking Gods, and yet Neuvel made me care about just two. The point being, I assume, that even if the whole world was ending – the majority of us would only care about our immediate friends and family – the people who we love.

There’s so much action, death, love and alien-robot-epicness in Waking Gods, that I soaked it all up in just one sitting this afternoon, completely unable to put it down.

If that’s not the sign of a 5-star book – I don’t know what is!

My only hope is that the next installment is just as good (judging by the final sentence, I think it will be!) – and that Neuvel will come to the UK sometime soon 🙂

I don’t think we’re on Earth anymore…

– Final sentence

5 Stars (5 / 5)

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