Title: Waking Gods
Series: The Themis Files
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 39
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, materialises 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 Defence 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.
This is very much an action packed sequel, but for me it didn’t quite live up to the first in the series (but a only just). As it is a sequel I have tried to be as vague as possible with regards to events of both the first and 2nd books and to just give my thoughts on the novel.
Again, the story is told through a series of interview files. In some aspects this format is great. I really enjoyed reading certain parts, for example the transcripts of film footage from a BBC news report or from inside the British parliament. They really captured the atmosphere of these occasions, particularly the current relations between the British public and its parliament. There are some “files”/chapters that the style gives a real intimacy to the conversation, truly giving insight into the characters feelings. However, I also feel it does distance the reader from the world-building and the action. A lot of the time the action scenes are set in the form of one character describing what they are doing to another who doesn’t have visual contact with them or the action. This becomes quiet tedious at parts and I found withdrew me from the plot. It just wasn’t as immersive as the first book felt which moved at a much slower pace and I felt did not jump perspectives as much.
I found some of the arrangement of perspectives quite jarring. We would be in the action seeing it from a couple of angles, then we would jump to characters outside of the action, one a new character who is a child. Frankly, the child’s perspective was not very well written. She is aged 10 but at times comes off much much younger (around 3/4 in my mind) while on other occasions she picks up new skills in less than a chapter. As her storyline doesn’t converge with the rest until much later in the book I found her sections distracting and boring. I was also very disappointed in Rose. She was one of my favourite characters in the last book but in this one her conversations with the unknown man are just whiney. All she does is moan and groan about events of the first book etc. It’s frustrating as she was a kick ass female scientist in the first book and she has been reduced to talking like an immature 12 year old.
There really is a real ramp up in the action in this book where it moves from a more science focused SF into the realm of apocalyptic SF. When it does revert to the science, it is well researched and plausible. I always commend books where the plausibility of their science is good as so many authors disappoint by just not reading about the science they are trying to portray . If you are going to use genetics in your novel at least read the Wikipedia page, or better yet phone your local university and ask to speak to an academic. We love talking about our work, teaching is part of our job and we very rarely bite! Neuvel has really nice bits of genetics in here that are explained exceptionally well, another way the interview style works as it is an expert character explaining to a layman and that conveys in information in a natural way.
There are some real moments in this book that made me pause in shock. There are moments that have real impact, we loose characters – some of my favourites. There are also moments where it felt rushed and we miss the key moment that should leave the reader greiveing. Overall it was just sort of anti-climactic. The ending just happens and we are left with a kind of “huh, ok” moment. It was just a little to fast. The epilogue purely sets everything up for the third book. Which from the last line is intriguing but I don’t know if it will be able to live up to the first book also.
ENDING – 7
STYLE AND PACE OF WRITING – 6
CHARACTERS – 6
ATMOSPHERE AND WORLDBUILDING – 7
PLOT – 7
ENJOYMENT – 6
Have you read this series? What do you think so far?
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