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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Book Review: Waking Gods

Waking Gods, by Sylvain Neuvel

Brace for impact. Neuvel’s first book, Sleeping Giants, follows the reports, diary-entries and interviews surrounding the discovery and subsequent assembly of enormous artifacts that form a giant – and distinctly inhuman – robot.  Dubbed Themis, after an ancient but benevolent Titaness, she poses huge questions – were did she come from? Who put her there? What is she meant for? Neuvel puts these questions are through the filters of science, religion, philosophy and perhaps deadliest of all - politics. 

Sleeping Giants ends on a cliffhanger, (SPOILER) with the scientist in charge of Themis suddenly back from the dead, and its sequel, Waking Gods, picks up from there at breakneck speed.  The stakes are much, much higher. We find out (vaguely) where Themis came from.  We find out – explosively – that she is not the only giant, glowing, inhuman robot.  Some of the questions of the first novel are answered, and not in ways we might like or expect.  Other, even more massive questions grow out of those answers.

One would expect that Neuvel’s books are action-thrillers, focusing solely on the giant robots in the room, but therein lies the brilliance of Neuvel’s story-telling: the suspense is built through the very human reactions to the robots’ presence. The action is described by the human characters experiencing it. We the readers are not allowed the comfort of the “all seeing eye”, watching everything unfold at a safe distance; the story-telling is completely immersive, which makes it exhilarating to say the least. It will challenge your beliefs and what you think you might know. It will challenge your sense of ethics and what you feel is right and wrong. It will both haunt and excite you as a result.

Sleeping Giants was long-listed for Canada Reads in 2017, and was a sleeper hit of last year. Fasten your seatbelts folks, because Waking Giants is a ride like no other.


Reserve Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods at http://spl.bibliocommons.com

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