Monday, August 14, 2017

Waking Gods - Sylvain Neuval

Waking Gods
The Themis Files, Book 2
Sylvain Neuvel
Del Rey

Science Fiction

NOTE:  If you haven’t read the first book in this series (SLEEPING GIANTS) this review contains some pretty serious plot spoilers.  And you have missed a terrific read.  So, go back, read the first book, then continue here.  It’s ok; I’ll wait.

The events of the first book (SLEEPING GIANTS) are ten years in the past.  Despite all of our worst fears and best hopes, nothing much has happened with regard to Themis in that decade.  That sense of security shatters in an instant when a huge, metallic figure appears in London’s Regent’s Park.  It didn’t land; it simply appeared.  This one looks to be male, and is slightly larger than Themis.  Is it friend, or foe?  It stands, unmoving, for weeks.  There’s no radio contact, no movement, no smoke signals, nothing.  The most exciting (or terrifying) part is that there must be drivers inside.  At least two.  Two aliens in a giant metal robot, just standing, immobile, in the middle of London.

No one should be surprised to find that the giant metal figure piloted by aliens comes equipped with some kind of invisible, electronic shield.  Nothing touches it.  Suddenly, it moves.  It raises an arm, emitting a blast of energy that utterly destroys a good portion of London.  There’s no rubble; there are no bodies; no smoking ruins.  Everything and everyone in the path of the energy weapon is simply, gone.  Empty space, right down to the dirt.  Shortly after, more robots appear, in cities all over the world.  The excitement is gone, largely replaced by terror and dread.

Kara and Vince are back, of course, as the only people who are able to pilot Themis.  They’ve continued studying her, and have made some advances.  Just not enough to repel dozens of robots just like her.  Judging by the abilities of the newly-arrived robots, they’ve got some catching up to do.  Dr. Rose Franklin is back, and having a few issues of her own.  We find out how that’s possible, and more about where the robots and their pilots come from in this installment.

Like the previous book, the story is told here in the form of broadcast transcripts, field reports, interviews, and diaries.  I’m still surprised by how much immediacy this format gives the story.  We get multiple points of view, and multiple opinions about these events.  Each new take on things propels the story forward in a very natural, organic way.  There are bumps in the road; some of them are fatal.  These setbacks force the characters to soldier on, despite hardships, giving each character added depth and realism.  This one ends with a cliffhanger.  Usually, I dislike that method of storytelling, but I’m so involved with the storyline that I’ve embraced it here.  I’m more than anxious for the next novel.

Rating: 9
April 2017

ISBN# 978-1-101-88672-4 (hardcover)


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