Monday, March 27, 2017

ARC Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Title: Waking Gods (Themis Files #2)
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Del Rey
Pages: 320
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Reviews for book 1 & book 3

//I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review// 
When an alien vessel materializes in London, does it mean peace or war? Waking Gods is the gripping sequel to the ground-breaking thriller Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. What's going on? Turn on the television. What channel? Any channel. An unknown vessel, not of this world, materializes in London. A colossal figure towering over the city, it makes no move. Is this a peaceful first contact or the prelude to an invasion? Every child has nightmares. But the only thing scarier than little Eva Reyes' dreams - apocalyptic visions of death and destruction - is the habit they have of coming true... Scientist Dr Rose Franklin has no memory of the last few years. The strangers she works with say she died, and was brought back to life. The question is not just how ... but why? Kara Resnik and Vincent Couture fell in love during war, and have found peace since. They are the thin line of defense against what is coming. But they do not know they have been living a lie. And a man who claims to have the answers has his own agenda. There are things he cannot say - and others he won't. All pieces of an epic puzzle. One we have been trying to solve since the dawn of time...

Last year a friend introduced me to Sleeping Giants and sparked an obsession. This year I heard there was an opportunity to read Waking Gods early and tripped all over myself trying to get a copy! Although I wasn't sure Sylvain Neuvel could deliver a second book as incredible as the first, I am excited to report that Waking Gods did not disappoint!

Sleeping Giants was a well-wrapped package. While there was a mind-blowing revelation near the end, there was no giant cliffhanger, so it wasn't surprising that Waking Gods opened with a time jump. I'll readily admit I was nervous about this at first. I tend to despise time jumps just because I feel so disconnected from characters ten years after I last saw them. I'm not sure if it's the unique format of this series or if Neuvel is a magician, but he totally pulled it off and managed to suck me back in immediately.

Kara and Vincent have been living their version of happily ever after since the conclusion of Sleeping Giants and it's exactly what you'd expect from these characters. Kara is happily childfree, Vincent does what he can to make her happy, and both continue to travel around the world showcasing their robot. But when a new threat comes to Earth, they jump right back into the action, ready to do whatever it takes to ensure the survival of the human race. The mysterious man at the center of everything is also back and I was thrilled that there was much more to him this time! Even a bit of backstory. Although the format of this series could make it difficult to connect with these people, there is no shortage of character development.

Thankfully, Waking Gods isn't short on conspiracy or action either. While the first book revolved around the worlds' shock of finding an alien robot, book two is about the panic that follows when several more of them show up - this time in tact, in major cities, and with alien pilots. No one knows what they're capable of and good people of Planet Earth are intent on testing their boundaries (as they do), inciting chaos at every turn. Sleeping Giants was exciting in its own right although there were lags, but Waking Gods is fast and sometimes feels like an action movie. I was never bored with this book!

The format of the Themis Files was something I really wasn't sure about when I finished the first book. While it worked well in audio, I said in my review that I didn't know if I would've been as intrigued if I'd read it in book form. As it turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong! The interview and log format of Waking Gods ended up being incredibly immersive and made me feel like I was in the middle of the action right alongside the characters.

I also loved that, while science was a big part of this book, it wasn't over my head to the point where I couldn't understand what was happening. There are also philosophical issues brought up in Waking Gods that you may not expect. Certain characters have to contend with some huge, life altering questions, but I always felt able to identify instead of being overwhelmed. Neuvel has written this in a way that it's understandable without being dumbed down or spoon fed to the reader.

Waking Gods is an incredibly intense sequel that did not let me go until the last page (and not really then). So often sequels suffer from second book syndrome but that definitely didn't happen here. I laughed, I cried, and I was absolutely on the edge of my seat! If you haven't started this series yet, you really need to give it a try! I cannot wait to get my hands on book three!