BOOK REVIEW: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel

Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)  by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 4.7 of 5 stars

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, materializes 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 Defense 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.

***** *** *******

Bloody hell, and I thought that Sleeping Giants (review HERE) was fast-paced! This second book of the Themis Files changes into an even higher gear, the story rocketing along so rapidly that, before I knew it, I was at the end. And with another cliff-hanger for good measure. I read this book, which is slightly longer than the first book, in exactly two sessions. To be fair, I had the excuse of being sick in bed with plenty of time on my hands, but still I didn’t want to put it down and stop the roller coaster ride.

img_4448-600x450

Again, I believe it is Neuvel’s storytelling method that created this reading experience. Just like Sleeping Giants the story continues to be laid out by the presentation chronologically ordered files such as interviews, mission logs and personal journal entries. This form of narrative gives a very intimate view of the action, even closer than a traditional first-person account, allowing you to feel much more “inside” the story. These are the first books that I’ve read that use this format for their entirety, and it has again worked very, very effectively.

To me, just like book one, the story still has a distinct young adult vibe to it, possibly even more so. Apart from the occasional profanity, there’s really nothing that would keep this from being suitable for a younger reader. The characterization seemed a little deeper as well, but possibly this was simply because the majority of the characters are carried over from the first book and they are becoming more familiar. We also learn some background of the mysterious interviewer who seems to be the main driving force behind much of the events, and we get a good look at his human side. We also learn more of the even more inexplicable Mr. Burns who is the main source of information about the alien invaders. But, just as we are given more clues about such matters, the intrigue continues to grow with the discovery of yet more perplexing things. Like I said earlier, we get left with another cliff-hanger and now need to wait until the as yet unannounced third book is published for the ride to continue.

As well as the techno-thriller elements, there is a goodly amount of hard sci-fi to be found in here too, especially of the genetic and biological variety which will please fans of that sort of stuff. The author is obviously quite learned and/or has thoroughly researched these fields because the technical language appears legitimate, not that I’m schooled in these myself. If I’d read that same description myself before opening the book I’d have probably thought that maybe it might be a bit of a yawn in places, but it’s really not, the brief scientific lectures being quite necessary to the plot. One minute you’re being taught about the differences in the sugars of DNA and RNA, the next you’re on a desperate run from an alien weapon. Great stuff to keep you on the edge of your seat and thinking the whole way through.

I’m going to rate this novel exactly the same as the first series installment because it’s a continuation of the same story, told in the same way and with the same level of satisfaction. It’s old news now, but I’ve just learned that Hollywood has taken notice because the rights to the series have been purchased by Sony Pictures for a movie adaptation. Awesome! I’ll certainly pay money to see that. It surely will turn out better than another movie with some obvious similaritiesPacific Rimwhich is quite possibly the single worst movie I’ve ever seen. It had better be because, in this series, we have one of the most entertaining stories released in the science-fiction genre over the last few years.

4/5 for concept
5/5 for delivery
5/5 for entertainment
= 4.7 out of 5

buy the book from The Book Depository, free deliveryamazon-icon-22

BOOK REIVIEW: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
My rating: 4.7 of 5 stars

Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.
 
A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.
 
Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.
 
But some can never stop searching for answers.
 
Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

***** *** *******

This is a fun and interesting book, both in the thematic sense and also in the storytelling style. It’s a relatively short sci-fi techno-thriller with what I think has a slight “youthy” feel, but I see this as a good thing, making it accessible to a wider audience of readers. I’d have loved this as a teenage reader just as much as I did as an “older” one. It’s a book that you could give to many readers because it contains solid tropes from the sci-fi genre as well as the fast action entertainment of a thriller. They all mix together rather nicely into a very entertaining story.

9781405921886

Neuvel dispenses altogether with a traditional narrative by telling the story by a chronological sequence of files which are mostly transcripts of interviews with key characters or news bulletins about events relevant to the story. Central to this is the interviewer, a mysterious nameless person who is leading efforts to recover parts of an ancient artifact which are buried in various parts Earth, a “robot” which is apparently thousands of years old. You’re constantly wondering who this person really is and who he (I think it’s a “he”) works for. How is it that he has access to such limitless resources? And how come he appears to have the ear of high ranking officials like the President? These questions, and others are not really answered as the story unfolds, but since this is a series I assume that things will be revealed in due course. The interviewer’s character is excellent and I enjoyed him a lot. He’s usually cold and manipulative, using anything and everything at his disposal to fulfil his mission yet he also demonstrates some subtle humor at times within his curt and efficient words. Along with the narrative format, this character is the book’s best facet.

The other characters are also good, none of whom I felt any true empathy with, yet they were real enough and appropriate for the story. Their psyches flowed from the pages easily and this demonstrates to me Neuvel’s skill as a writer. To clarify, I’m a reader who often doesn’t feel much connection with characters unless they are particularly relevant to me, yet this lot interested me quite sufficiently. Again, it’s probably the format of the narrative that lends itself to a brutally honest exposé of their personalities. Let’s call this the book’s second best facet.

While the story itself didn’t “blow me away” as such (although I’ve heard rumors that the second book ramps things up a bit) it was a hoot to read because it trots along at a rapid pace in true thriller style. Laid down in chronological order, it is very easy to follow and because Neuvel’s writing flows well, I didn’t need to backtrack to pick up the story after losing the scent, not even once. Yet again, I attribute this to the concise format.

Because it’s a short novel, I found myself reaching the end all too quickly and scrambling to get my hands on book two, helped by the ending itself being a bit of a plot-twisting cliff-hanger. It’s all good stuff and all of the elements combine into a wonderfully entertaining novel that is sure to please any reader who is interested by the synopsis.

In summary, I’d certainly have to agree with the vast majority of readers and reviewers in saying that this is a fine new novel from a promising writing talent. I’d be surprised if Hollywood hasn’t already noticed it because it’s got action movie written all over it. I’d also wager that Sylvain Neuvel is probably going to do alright out of this. Well, he deserves it for producing such an entertaining story. I’m now going to hop straight into book two of the series Waking Gods because I’m not ready to pause the story just yet, I’m having too much fun.

4/5 for concept
5/5 for delivery
5/5 for entertainment
= 4.7 out of 5

buy the book from The Book Depository, free deliveryamazon-icon-22