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Waking Gods: Book 2 of The Themis Files Hardcover – April 4, 2017
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“Kick-ass, one-on-one robot action combines with mind-bending scientific and philosophical speculation. Series science-fiction fans will enjoy this follow-up filled with unexpected revelations and a surprise finale.”—Booklist
“Pure, unadulterated literary escapism featuring giant killer robots and the looming end of mankind. In a word: unputdownable.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Stunningly good . . . If you read just one science fiction book this year, then Waking Gods is the perfect choice.”—Fresh Fiction
“Sheer escapist fun.”—Shelf Awareness
Praise for Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants
“As high-concept as it is, Sleeping Giants is a thriller through and through. . . . One of the most promising series kickoffs in recent memory.”—NPR
“Neuvel weaves a complex tapestry with ancient machinery buried in the Earth, shadow governments, and geopolitical conflicts. But the most surprising thing about the book may just be how compelling the central characters are in the midst of these larger-than-life concepts.”—Chicago Review of Books
“This stellar debut novel . . . masterfully blends together elements of sci-fi, political thriller and apocalyptic fiction. . . . A page-turner of the highest order.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Reminiscent of The Martian and World War Z, Sleeping Giants is a luminous conspiracy yarn that shoots for (and lands among) the stars.”—Pierce Brown, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Red Rising trilogy
“First-time novelist Sylvain Neuvel does a bold, splashy cannonball off the high dive with Sleeping Giants. It bursts at the seams with big ideas. This book is a sheer blast from start to finish. I haven’t had this much fun reading in ages.”—Blake Crouch, author of Dark Matter and the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy
“A remarkable debut.”—Library Journal (starred review)
About the Author
Sylvain Neuvel is the author of Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods. He is a linguist and translator based in Montreal. He is at work on an R2-D2 replica and his next novel.
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Needless to say, my expectations for Wakings Gods were set very very. . .very high. How high? I expected Waking Gods to be my Book Of The Year for 2017 and the final, yet to be named, Book 3 to be my Book Of The Year for 2018. I know, really high expectations. But based on the storyline and the style of writing with Sleeping Giants, that did not seem unrealistic of me.
One of the things that really caught my eye with Sleeping Giants was the cover. There was the square cutout on the dust jacket with art printed on the actual hardback book. I am so happy they did that again with Waking Gods, but instead of a square cutout they did a triangle one. The color scheme is different, Waking Gods having a yellow theme to it while Sleeping Giants was turquoise. The artwork below the dust jacket is beautiful. I do wish they would have put more artwork on the back of the actual book, just like in Sleeping Giants, but they did not. There are stars there, but no robot artwork.
Unfortunately, I do not believe that Waking Gods will be my Book Of The Year for 2017. Don’t get me wrong: it is a very good story. But it didn’t wow me like Sleeping Giants did.
Waking Gods does not pick up right where Sleeping Giants ended. It actually starts nine years after the events of Sleeping Giants, but most of the book takes place ten years after Sleeping Giants.
Waking Gods suffers from what I am going to call the Ernest Cline syndrome. Ernest Cline made a huge splash with Ready Player One and the bar he set with that book was very high. Many people, including myself, expected another book of that caliber. Some will argue he succeeded and others will say he failed with his next book Armada. Sleeping Giants was Sylvain Neuvel’s debut and he made a huge splash with it. The movie rights were actually bought before the story rights were picked up. But how do you follow up a story like that? How can you meet the expectations you set with book one? It is a monumental and scary task.
Waking Gods is told in the same format as Sleeping Giants, mainly interviews and transcripts. One thing Neuvel did more this time was having more than the two people speaking in a chapter, but he does a great job of making it easy to following along with who is speaking.
This format is what really makes this series stand out among all the other stories out there. Before Sleeping Giants, I had never read anything like this. I know there are other books out there that might be written in the same format, but I had not read them and this style was new to me. It was exciting. Fun. I could not stop reading. For about thirty-six hours I ate, slept, and drank Sleeping Giants.
The audiobook for Waking Gods is amazing. I’d venture to say that it is actually better than the audiobook of Sleeping Giants. There are parts of the story when characters are talking to each other through a walkie-talkie (do people still say that or do they just say radio?). During these parts in the audio version, there is an added effect so the person sounds like they are talking through a walkie-talkie.
As I read and listened to the story, I realized that I prefered to listen to Waking Gods. It is a good story, it just isn’t great. I didn’t always feel like I needed to read what was coming next. I didn’t always feel like I needed to find reasons to read or to take reading breaks at work while other people took smoke breaks. There were times when I actually decided that playing a game on the Playstation sounded more fun. Now there were times I needed to know what happened next, but more times than not, I was ok if I could only read one chapter during the day.
There are some moments that did make me drop my jaw and want to throw the book. Not because it was bad, but because Neuvel did something that I didn’t think he would do. I wish I could mention them but they would be major spoilers.
That is one thing that I have enjoyed with this series so far: it is not predictable. Neuvel has always done a great job with the twists in his stories. There are two major instances during Waking Gods where this happened, and I actually emailed him about them. One of them was explained a little later in the book, but they were major enough that I needed to let him know what I thought.
Waking Gods at times felt too long. I don’t know why, but it kind of felt like it could have been a novella instead of a novel.
Overall, if you enjoyed Sleeping Giants and want to know where the story is going next, pick up Waking Gods. Don’t do what I did, don’t set the bar so high that no matter what Neuvel wrote, it wouldn’t be good enough. The story is good and I believe it is setting up an explosive end to the series. I have no idea where he is going to go with the story. Book 3 will definitely be a surprise to me and I can’t wait to read it when it comes out in 2018.
I can’t say that I feel a great deal differently after finishing Waking Gods, the second of the Themis Files novels. All I’d add is that I found the book enormously entertaining. The dialogue, reproduced in a series of transcriptions and documents that together comprise the “Files,” is often funny. Very funny. Author Sylvain Neuvel has a terrific way with dialogue.
Years after the conclusion of Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods picks up the story of Themis, the giant alien robot reconstructed by American and Canadian scientists. The United Nations has formed the Earth Defense Corps (EDC) to deploy Themis in the event aliens (or simply more giant robots) attack the Earth. The mysterious, unnamed interviewer of the first novel continues to play the role of intermediary between the scientists and (apparently) the White House. The team of three—Dr. Rose Franklin, Captain Kara Resnik, and Vincent Couture—remain in direct control of Themis. Dr. Franklin, who discovered the robot as a child, is head of the scientific division of EDC. But she’s not completely convinced that she really IS Rose Franklin, because she died and came back to life four years later with no memory of the time elapsed. (“I don’t know what I am, but I know I’m not . . . her. I’m trying to be. Desperately trying.”) Kara and Vincent, now married, are the robot’s pilots. They appear to be the only people on Earth who can manage the alien controls.
Waking Gods begins with a shock. A 200-foot-tall robot has appeared in the middle of Regent’s Park in London. It looks like Themis, but it’s ten feet taller and radiates a different color. For a long time, the robot simply stands, motionless, while the Earth Defense Corps and the world’s governments debate what to do in response. Send Themis as a good-will gesture? Attack with every weapon at NATO’s disposal? Naturally, when the question is finally resolved, by default, all hell breaks loose—including, of course, a battle between giant robots. You’ll have to read the book to learn just what happens. And if you do, you’ll find yourself surprised, again and again.
The more I get into this series and others like it from other authors, the more clear it becomes these books are basically screenplays with a lot of extra dialog written into it (as you'd expect with a novel). There is too much over-simplification, or put another way the characters read more like movie characters and the plotlines more like movie plotlines. You can almost see hollywood at work. And don't get me wrong; I don't begrudge any of these authors their literary or hollywood success (I can't claim to have achieved anything like that level of success (technical writer)). But I do feel like a lot of these novels by this author, authors like Douglas Richards, and others are too much catering to the "millennial mind" — people who need to be quickly entertained and satiated on that level rather than challenging them with a deeper story and context and making them engage the novel a bit more to get the payoff at the end.
Still worth a read, and for sure I'll buy the third installment at this point (to see what happens)... and maybe that installment will be the depth I'm hoping for... but ultimately this amounts to your typical "good read on a summer weekend" (or snowy weekend depending on where you are).
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The audiobook for Sleeping Giants was so amazing I decided to borrow Waking...Read more