This is the sequel to Sleeping Giants and the second novel in the Themis Files trilogy, a series about a team of scientists finding and testing a giant robot found buried on Earth. The first two novels in this trilogy probably should have just been one. The first ends in a very anti-climatic and dull way, particularly for a novel about a giant robot, and this one just continues the story. Waking Gods does jump ahead in time several years, but it really feels like the second half of that first novel. There seems to be some rule that you can’t have just two novels in a science fiction or fantasy series. It will be three or more, even if you have to rip one in half to do it.
It’s hard to include too much about the plot, as this is a sequel and I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s basically the most exciting bits of the last novel all the way through. Since we’re familiar with the characters now, the focus has shifted somewhat to the world events, and things do get quite crazy. It’s a novel that’s really about holding the tension rather than straight up action, which I think bothers a lot of people. Don’t expect Gundam or Power Rangers. This is largely about trying to plan for and deal with major disasters, and Sylvain Neuvel really doesn’t pull any punches. Horrible things happen in this, and that really helps build the tension later in the book.
— Spoiler —
I really love Rose Franklin’s story line, and how she’s able to look at the project in retrospect and see it differently. To see what she did before, with the same mind, but with an objectivity that most people don’t get a chance to experience. The ‘am I a real person’ dilemma she had was great, but it’s that idea of being able to examine years of your own life from the viewpoint of your younger self that I found really interesting.
— /Spoiler —
I’ve been listening to this series in audiobook format, and it’s just perfect for that. It has a full cast, mostly very strong narrators, and it just works so well. There are a few production issues, such as having the characters occasionally scream as loud as they can without the volume being adjusted, causing you to bleed from the ears and stumble into traffic, but it’s mostly excellent.
If you enjoy the first novel, definitely pick this up. If you were lukewarm on that novel, you will probably feel the same way about this. It’s really more of the same, amplified slightly, but for me that was enjoyable. There is a huge plot twist at the end of this, however, and I’m excited to see what the novel will bring.