Book Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Nuevel

Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

Posted July 25, 2021 by Amber in Reviews / 2 Comments

Waking Gods

Waking Gods

by Sylvain Neuvel

Series: Themis Files #2
Publisher: Del Rey on April 4, 2017
Genre: Science Fiction
Target Age Group: Adult
Content Warnings: Ableism, Alcohol, Blood, Car Accident, Cursing, Death, Death of Parent, Genocide, Grief, Kidnapping, Torture, Violence

Rating: ★★★★½

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As a child, Rose Franklin made an astonishing discovery: a giant metallic hand, buried deep within the earth. As an adult, she’s dedicated her brilliant scientific career to solving the mystery that began that fateful day: Why was a titanic robot of unknown origin buried in pieces around the world? Years of investigation have produced intriguing answers—and even more perplexing questions. But the truth is closer than ever before when a second robot, more massive than the first, materializes and lashes out with deadly force.

Now humankind faces a nightmare invasion scenario made real, as more colossal machines touch down across the globe. But Rose and her team at the Earth Defense Corps refuse to surrender. They can turn the tide if they can unlock the last secrets of an advanced alien technology. The greatest weapon humanity wields is knowledge in a do-or-die battle to inherit the Earth . . . and maybe even the stars.


When I started listening to Waking Gods, I did not expect ten years to have passed since the end of Sleeping Giants.  As much as I was looking forward to this sequel, that simple fact threw me off for the first couple chapters while I reacquainted myself with the characters, the world, and the events at the end of the first book.  I’m usually okay when I read book two a few years after book three, but because of the time jump, there was a lot to catch up on.

Once I caught up, though… Waking Gods is just as good as Sleeping GiantsI still really enjoy the dossier style of storytelling.  The audiobook version amplifies this by using a host of different narrators, all of whom do an excellent job.  The storytelling and reading are both rich and interesting.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this book.  For me, this was easy because the narrators sounded so different (I can not emphasize enough how excellent the audiobook is).  For those who don’t enjoy untraditional storytelling or multiple POVs, Waking Gods may be a miss.  The story is  pushed forward by the plot itself.  We do see some character growth, but since it is a dossier-style of storytelling, it’s really more about having the pieces of information to fill in the empty spaces than which character is telling that part of the story.

I’m still a bit salty about one of the choices Neuvel made at about 75% through the book.  If nothing else, I will say that he is brutal and doesn’t shy away from making extreme decisions that will completely shatter your predictions for the end of the book.  The very last chapter – the ending itself – the great.

I really enjoy Neuvel’s style.  Hey gives you just enough about the story direction that you’re entirely clueless about what is coming next.  He gives you just enough about the characters that you’re rooting for them without quite realizing it.  He changes the world we know just enough that we ar3e led by out perception to make false assumptions and the twists hit you that much more.

Waking Gods is just about as good as Sleeping Giants.  It manages to be both a self-contained story and a bridge between books one and three.  Waking Gods expands the our world understanding and while we get a few answers, we are left with more questions.  It makes the reader curious in the best way a second book can and I am completely invested in the story.  Sleeping Giants remains one of my favorite books and in my top three audiobooks of all time.  While I think the first book was just a little bit better… Waking Gods is excellent and I continue to highly recommend the Themis Files.

Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Writing: ★★★★★
Pacing: ★★★★
Narrator: ★★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★★★

4.5 stars overall rating


If you found out you could control a giant extraterrestrial robot, would you want to do it?  I’m not sure for myself, I’m not a coordinated person and I’d be worried about stepping on someone!  What about you?  Let me know in the comments!

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2 responses to “Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

  1. I loved The Themis Files series SO MUCH! Its been ages since I read it, so I love reading your review about Waking Gods, it really brings back memories of how much I love this series – especially as an audiobook. I also really enjoyed that this entire series takes place basically over a few decades (from when Rose was a child, to an adult, to this book being 10 years later). Glad you liked this one, and I hope you enjoy Only Human too!

    • Amber

      Oh my gosh, the audiobooks are SO GOOD aren’t they? I’m definitely looking forward to Only Human and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. Neuvel’s writing is so intelligent and engrossing, I love it.