Book Review

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel


Sleeping Giants was one of my favourite novels of 2016, and since I read it last May, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of Waking Gods, the sequel and book two of the Themis Files, and I was absolutely delighted when Sarah Harwood sent me a copy for review.

As with any follow, I was also a little nervous, however – would it live up to my expectations?  I’m pleased to say that any concerns were completely unfounded – I absolutely loved Waking Gods!

As this is the second book in the series, you really do need to read Sleeping Giants first, and whilst this review won’t contain any spoilers for Waking Gods, I don’t think that I can avoid mentioning certain elements of the first novel in order to properly set the scene.  You have been warned.

Synopsis (from Amazon):

What’s going on?

Turn on the television.

What channel?

Any channel.

An unknown vessel, not of this world, materialises 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 defence 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…

Structurally, Waking Gods takes a similar format to Sleeping Giants, and uses various interviews, reports and articles to tell the story.  As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of the epistolary format and I think that it’s a great way of telling a story such as this.  I thought that the reports and documents etc. showed wider breadth in Waking Gods – in Sleeping Giants, the focus was largely on Rose and her team, whereas in Waking Gods a wider variety of perspectives was shared.  This made sense for the plot – Sleeping Giants is focused predominantly on recovering and assembling the parts of Themis, and the impact of the events in this second novel are wider-reaching, and it therefore made sense to see a broader range of perspectives as we see how the arrival of a vessel is handled by the powers that be.

Waking Gods reunites the reader with various characters from Sleeping Giants, and I enjoyed finding out more about Rose’s situation.  One of the (many) outstanding questions from the first novel was around Rose’s death and subsequent resurrection, and I was extremely happy to have this explained in Waking Gods.  As you might expect, this situation does pose some existential questions for Rose, given that she personally hasn’t done many of the things that she has been credited for, and I sympathised with her plight.

The reader also finds out more about the nameless interviewer.  In Sleeping Giants, this individual seemed far too knowledgeable and had seemingly limitless control over the project and the team, yet very little was revealed about this person.  In Waking Gods, we find out about his (and it is a he, I was correct in that assertion!) background and what his role actually is.  I won’t say any more on this, but I was pleased and a little amused by the explanation behind this particular character and his actions.

I’ve deliberately not discussed the plot in any great detail in this review – anything I could say has the feeling of a spoiler to it and that’s to be avoided at all costs.  Suffice to say that Waking Gods fully delivers on the promise of Sleeping Giants.  It’s quite different in some ways – whereas Sleeping Giants dealt with the discovery of the parts of Themis and the ramifications of this discovery, the arrival of another vessel has other, potentially more serious, implications.  Neuvel has delivered a stunning follow up to one of favourite books of 2016, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Waking Gods was published on 6 Aril by Michael Joseph.  Many thanks to Sarah Harwood for providing a copy for review.

Rating: ★★★★★


    1. Beautiful, isn’t it? I liked this just as much Sleeping Giants, so would recommend picking up a copy if you enjoyed that.

    1. 😂 Thanks, Renee! It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it’s a highly enjoyable and well told story if you ever fancy something a bit different x

  1. Didn’t know it, but this actually sounds super interesting. And that feeling when you are worried about the book but ends up being awesome ❤

    1. Definitely recommend giving it a go if you’re in the mood for some science fiction. And such a relief that I loved this one too – I guess I should have more faith! 😃

    1. Wasn’t it great!? I’m hoping there is a sequel, I really want more from this series!

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