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Waking Gods
Themis Files #2
by Sylvain Neuvel
Del Rey; 324pp; $28
Published: April 2017

It’s a whopper and written with the same immediacy as the previous work.

Dr. Rose Franklin has come back, confused and uncertain, but she is back from the dead and not sure why. And with her return; suddenly, a new giant robot appears with no warning, in London. Response is mixed as you can imagine---and then---it lets out a death ray and destroys a great swath of the city, along with 136,000 souls.  Earth is being attacked by giant alien robots that are definitely related to the first robot in ‘Sleeping Giants.”

Those who made the discovery of the alien form in “Sleeping Giants” are desperate to find out what the original robot can do to counterattack. The robot, now named Themis, is proving hard to manipulate. Though they do figure out Themis can teleport, it’s difficult to control.

Kara Resnick and Vincent Couture are now married and working hard to get Themis up to speed. Disappointed lover Ryan Mitchell, released from jail, also has a part to play in this tale. As does the very disturbing geneticist Dr. Alyssa Papantoniou.

The book is written in the same format as the previous novel: reports, snippets of interviews, journal entries and conversations, so once again, the book moves very quickly.

Mr. Burns (Occupation Unknown) also returns to give more information regarding the situation. And the mysterious omniscient compiler of the files of which the material in this novel is made is still doing his thing, but he remains cryptic.

Events go to hell in a handbasket here as more robots appear—thirteen in various cities and places all over the world. They release a gas that kills millions---save for a few lucky (or unlucky depending on how you see it) souls, whose DNA, it is discovered, gives them some immunity.

The reason for their survival is an interesting lesson in genetic mutations/cross-breeding.

The aliens have a hand in human evolution but destroying what they see as a failure is well, I think, short-sighted of them. But what does anyone on Earth know? They are not able to communicate with the invading robot pilots, though they do retrieve two dead ones from a robot finally destroyed. The world’s governments are stumped and turn to Kara and Vincent and their affinity for Themis to save them.

There are lots of questions and the tone of the novel, even with the addition of Kara and Vincent’s secret love child, Eva who helps save the day…is very depressing. Can’t say I enjoyed this book particularly as the destruction and death accumulates relentlessly.

The ending, once again, presents a new twist in the story.  Hopefully, the third novel will answer a lot that’s contained herein. ~~  Sue Martin

For other books in the Themis files series click here

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