Waking Gods: Book Two of the Themis Files

By Sylvain Neuvel
Del Ray/Random House. ©2016
ISBN: 9781101886717
Trade Paperback, 336 pages

Nine years have passed since the formation of the Earth Defense Corps. Themis, Kara and Vincent have become parade attractions, t-shirt slogans and action figures while the science team continues to probe Themis for new technologies. Everyone has begun to believe the creators of Themis haven’t noticed her discovery by humans. Everyone but the science team, and their nameless and intrepid behind-the-scenes friend. So when a second colossal robot appears in Regent’s Park in London, they are among the few who aren’t surprised.

Human nature takes only a few days to rear a fearful head; Londoners and politicians sniffing for any chance at an opening against their opponents call for decisive government action, even as calmer heads advise a wait-and-see attitude. When the fearmongers insist, British armed forces close on three sides of the park with disastrous consequences. Kara and Victor bring Themis to the rescue, to everyone’s relief.

But the reprieve is short-lived. Soon, Titans begin appearing in major cities around the world – thirteen in all. EDC leaders debate the best course of action even as the stakes rise higher with every passing day. Surely Themis is their best chance, but she can fight only one at a time. With the fate of humanity hanging by a slender thread, Victor and Kara must make life-altering choices if they are to have any chance at all.

I said after reading Sleeping Giants that it was the best book I’d read in a long time. Waking Gods carries on that same feeling. Neuvel’s transition into book two is smooth, believable, intriguing. Again, the tale is told in the form of recorded interviews, news reports, journal or log entries, and it works incredibly well. From the very beginning, tension mounts until I found myself unable to put it down. And just as with book one, Neuvel throws in a wicked twist on the very last page. Masterfully done.

Many of the same characters are continued from the first book, changed in believable ways that are consistent with the flow of the tale. A few new faces make their appearance, including little Eva, who is no ordinary child. She knows things she shouldn’t, and is much stronger than she looks, strong enough to face the Titans with no (okay, a little) fear. But when the story’s tension peaks, the path to salvation comes from a surprising source.

I learned after starting this series that the author intends it to be at least three books, so there’s a third book on the way. Not sure when it’s scheduled for release; Neuvel’s own website is pretty out of date. But Waking Gods at least ends on a solid note. There is definitely a cliff-hanger, but at least it isn’t one that will have me pacing the room until the new release. I will be watching for it, you can bet, that and the movie release. Neuvel has a real winner here. I strongly recommend it.