14 May 2017

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

My rating: 4.7 out of 5
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.

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. The third volume of the series Only Human has an expected publication date of May 1st 2018. There will be a few people out there eagerly waiting for this one, of that I'm certain. I recently 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 similarities—Pacific Rim—which 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

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