Waking Gods: A Book Review

Photo courtesy of the author

Writing this book review of “Waking Gods,” book two of the trilogy “The Themis Files,” I found myself in a quandary. When I write a review of a wonderful book, I don’t like to insert spoilers.

If you, dear reader, haven’t yet read the first book in the series, “Sleeping Giants,” you should know it is definitely a requirement before diving into “Waking Gods.”

While “Waking Gods” is a wonderful book and could stand by itself, you’ll be missing a lot of the story without having read “Sleeping Giants.” You might think you understand what is happening in this book; however, there may be pieces that you don’t quite understand because of the intricate nature of the invasion of earth by a yet undefined species.

Oh, was that a spoiler? I think not. That sentence gives no more information than little blurbs about “Sleeping Giants” that are easily found on the Internet—especially if you go to Sylvain Neuvel’s website and find out some interesting facts about the author.

Sylvain quit high school at the age of 15, but at some point in his life, due to an expanding curiosity, he went back to school and received his PhD in linguistics. He also became a father who told a story about giant robots to his son, and then, when his son began asking questions in depth about the robots, Sylvain had to come up with a back story.

Which he did. And that’s lucky for us, because if it weren’t for the back story, we wouldn’t have this fantastic trilogy of books to read, which has already been optioned by Sony for a movie. It will probably be more than one movie. After all, look at what happened to “Hunger Games,” and this story is wonderfully equal to that tale.

I really hate to inform you of what happens when the Waking Gods appear. When the giant machines appear in densely populated areas of the world, they come with attitude. Only the Sleeping Giant can stand against them, but that comes at quite a cost to humanity and the aliens.

Do you trust your government? Can you trust god-like beings with amazing powers that can raze cities to bare earth? The giants and Themis go toe to toe, and the cost can be quite high.

You’ll be amazed by the events that take place in this series. I can’t wait to read the third book, and book two only comes out in April 2017. From one step to the next, the mystery of where these aliens come from and our relationship to them becomes intertwined. Is it possible that they changed the face of our civilization beginning aeons ago?

The tension in book one was excruciating, but “Waking Gods” makes “Sleeping Giants” seem like a walk in the park.

In book one, the story involved a search-and-find expedition, and as the giant robot comes together, the human operators are altered in such a way that we begin to doubt the pure genes of humans on the earth. I really don’t want to discuss the attacks that take place in the cities, but they reveal facts that change the history of humankind.

Life and death are not open to conjecture at this point. This is one of the best science fiction series on the history of the world I’ve ever read. I’ve read that this story can be compared to “The Martian” by Andy Weir or to “World War Z,” because of the style in which it’s written.

However, “World War Z” was a sleeper compared to “The Themis Files.” Whereas “World War Z” featured a rather boring series of communications between the central characters, “Waking Gods” represents a thrilling series of communications.

To compare the two books based on style is a gross error. “Sleeping Giants” and “Waking Gods” pulled me along in the narrative, and I found it difficult to put the books down. Sylvain Neuvel is at home in his medium, and he’s one of the best writers I’ve ever read. I’m really excited to find out how the final book of the “Themis” trilogy wraps up.

Until then, “Waking Gods” strikes in mid-April.

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.