Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽'s Reviews > Waking Gods

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel
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really liked it
bookshelves: science-fiction, arc, netgalley

This SF sequel to last year's Goodreads Choice nominee Sleeping Giants, is on sale as of April 4, 2017. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature (along with two other excellent reviews from my co-reviewers at FanLit, who gave it 4.5 and 4 stars). Jason and I also have an interview with Sylvain Neuvel on FanLit, so check it out!

It’s nine years after the end of the events in Sleeping Giants. Our anonymous and dry-witted handler is still pulling strings and manipulating events and people behind the scenes. Vincent Couture and Kara Resnick are still in a relationship, and still the only people on earth who can pilot Themis, the two hundred foot tall alien robot that scientists found and assembled. Dr. Rose Franklin ― or the younger copy of her that was found by a road in Ireland, a year after the original Rose died ― is the head of research in the Earth Defense Corps, formed to deal with whatever alien threats might appear. And now, it appear, the EDC will get its chance.

A new robot suddenly materializes in the middle of London, a little taller and more muscular-appearing than Themis, striated with veins of yellow light rather than Themis’s turquoise, and likely six thousand years newer than her. For a week the new robot, called Kronos, stands motionless and silent while humanity in general, and the British Parliament in particular, argues about what to do. Finally the British military calls in tanks and soldiers to confront Kronos with a show of military force, hoping that those who control the robot will choose to leave. Kronos turns its head. And then all hell breaks loose.

More giant robots mysteriously appear around the world, and are wholly uncommunicative about their intentions … but not so much, unfortunately, about their combat abilities. Humanity is in trouble, and at an alarming disadvantage.

The characters we know and love (or, in the case of a couple of them, love to hate) all play a role in the events of Waking Gods. There are some truly surprising character arcs during the events of this novel. The handler character is still nameless, but discloses an intriguing background. Kara is as impulsive and smart-mouthed as ever, but shows a new side of her personality when she gets some astounding and highly personal news. Rose is a darker character in her new iteration. Nine years after her mystical reappearance as a younger version of the character who died in Sleeping Giants, Rose is still traumatized by the idea that she’s just a clone or copy; she spends a lot of time, perhaps too much, gloomily navel-gazing. But the answers to the questions about how and why she was brought back may give her a new purpose.

There are also a couple of key new players: Brigadier General Eugene Govender, commander of the EDC, and Eva Reyes, a ten year old girl in Puerto Rico with disturbing visions that often come true. I’m not always convinced about the wisdom of adding a child character to an otherwise adult adventure tale, but Sylvain Neuvel uses Eva’s character to good effect here.

While Waking Gods retains the same file-based structure and interview and report-based narrative style as Sleeping Giants, the focus shifts from the wonder of discovery and research about an alien artifact and the political ramifications of that discovery, to more of a science fictional disaster film vibe. While the nature of the story being told in Waking Gods didn’t have the innate appeal to me as Sleeping Giants’ story did, it’s still a gripping tale. It’s slightly marred by just a few plot developments that struck me as either overly convenient or pat, or (I’ll admit it) painfully shocking.

Waking Gods is an epic story, global in its scope. Even it didn’t engage me quite to the extent the first book did, it’s unquestionably a solid follow-up. And with that last sentence in the novel, Neuvel had better be planning on publishing a third book soon!

ETA: For those who've read the first book, the author has published some additional "Lost Files" online:
File No. 002
File No. 247 -- requires signing up with Instafreebie and downloading a file they'll email to you. It's worth it if you're a really big fan of Sleeping Giants and particularly of the mysterious handler.

I received a free copy of this ebook from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for a review. Thank you!!
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Reading Progress

October 7, 2016 – Shelved
October 7, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
December 13, 2016 – Shelved as: science-fiction
March 13, 2017 – Started Reading
March 14, 2017 –
8.0% "—Maybe not happy, more … alive. I feel more like myself than I have for a while is what I’m trying to say. Maybe normal isn’t for me. Maybe I was trying to be something I’m not.

—I do not wish to impede your journey towards self-discovery, but I am reasonably certain that there are ways of being yourself that do not require a global crisis."
March 14, 2017 –
15.0% "You’re a very complex, awe-inspiring configuration of matter that is stable at room temperature.
—I do not mean to interrupt, but room temperature?
—More or less. The universe loves stability. That’s why you don’t fall apart into a quadrillion little parts or a puddle of goo. But you’re only stable at this temperature. Raise it or lower it by a hundred degrees and you start falling apart.
—It should be."
March 14, 2017 –
54.0% "—Do not thank me as if I have in some way done you a favor. You are probably the one person on this Earth I am the least inclined to please, and if anyone had told me a year ago that I would grant you access to everything you dreamed of, I would have told them.… Well, I suppose this is as close as we will ever get to hell freezing over."
March 15, 2017 – Finished Reading
March 29, 2017 – Shelved as: arc
March 29, 2017 – Shelved as: netgalley

Comments Showing 1-11 of 11 (11 new)

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message 2: by Aneela (new)

Aneela ♒the_mystique_reader♒ Congrats Tadiana :-)

message 3: by Trish (new)

Trish Congratulations!

message 4: by James (new)

James Tivendale I love a good ol' NetGalley approval! :)

Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜ And I look forward to you review! Sounds like a blast!

message 6: by Trish (new)

Trish Wailing inside because traumatic or stupid in their execution?

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ The trauma! The author killed (view spoiler) D:

Chessa OMG I know, right?!

message 9: by Trish (new)

Trish Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ wrote: "The trauma! The author killed [spoilers removed] D:"

Well, considering my awful day yesterday (view spoiler) *evil grin*!

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Stunnig review! ;)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ Maks(DaAnnoyingOne)™ wrote: "Stunnig review! ;)"

Thanks Maks! This is definitely a series worth reading.

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