Review (spoiler-free) | Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

 4/5 stars

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Thank you to Penguin UK – Michael Joseph and NetGalley for giving me an e-copy of this book.

The blurb: I won’t post the blurb for book 2 here because it contains spoilers for Book 1: Sleeping Giants (click for my review which features the blurb for book 1). Enough to say that this series features mysterious, giant alien robots and the team of people trying to figure out what they’re doing on Earth.

My (spoiler-free) take:

It’s nearly a year since I read and reviewed the first of the “Themis Files”: Sleeping Giants. I enjoyed the way that book told its story, giving us information through interview transcripts, letters and reports. Waking Gods uses the same methods and returns to the same characters as book 1, but I didn’t enjoy this installment quite as much as the first. Perhaps some of the novelty of the form has worn off? That said, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to enjoy and appreciate in Waking Gods and if you liked Sleeping Giants I highly recommend you get a copy of the sequel.

Firstly, we get more of our favourite characters in Waking Gods and those you love to hate too. More importantly, we finally get some proper answers to all the questions book 1 left hanging. And, if you’re looking for drama, Waking Gods dials up the stakes and threat level massively, this time putting the survival of the entire human race in peril.

The epistolary format used in book 1 continues to work well in book 2. I would love to write a whole novel in dialogue because it’s an efficient, swift way to keep a story moving. But it’s a hard task to sustain this narrative method over the length of a novel and in a couple of places it does result in some rather clunky storytelling. For example:

Interviewee: “You know all this already. Why the hell are you getting me to explain what happened again?”

Interviewer: “I have read your statement, but I want to hear it in your own words.”

Interviewee: “But why? We’re in a crisis situation and getting me to repeat myself is a complete waste of time!”

Interviewer: “Agreed. Nevertheless, humour me.”

Interviewee: “But why-”

Interviewer: “Because the reader needs to know what happened, goddamit! Now talk!!!”

Don’t worry if it’s been a while since you read book 1. Waking Gods does an excellent job of dropping in all the unobtrusive reminders you need to jog your memory about the essential bits of Sleeping Giants.

Overall: if you enjoyed Sleeping Giants, I highly recommend Waking Gods. And if you haven’t read the series yet but like the sound of giant alien robots popping up on Earth, what are you waiting for?!


Claire Huston / Art and Soul

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