Like its predecessor, Sleeping Giants, Waking Gods is marked by an interesting style, where debriefings, news reports, and journal entries are pieced together to tell the story. The second book of the Themis Files has a markedly different tone than the first: while Sleeping Giants was somewhat contemplative and slow-moving, things really get going in Waking Gods. Despite the difference in tone, I don't think you can really enjoy Waking Gods to the full without reading its predecessor, as the story isn't dragged down by too much exposition of what happened before. The story picks up a few years after the first book, and all of the characters from the first story are back in force, along with a few new perspectives. I was a little disappointed in one of them, as their introduction makes another character's demise painfully obvious rather than a surprising twist or "anyone can die" vibe. However, I did like the new characters and I was happy to see the return of some of my favourites, such as the fiery Kara.
The plot and tone reminded me quite a bit of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. As with Welles’ famous story, the reader spends most of the story frustrated, helpless, and adrift, unable to determine what will happen next or why. Despite the crazy events, I think Neuven is quite successful in creating what I'd call, for want of a better term, a tone of realism. Part of achieving this is having atrocities and events can happen without any explanation or any leading plot arc. For me, this made it quite difficult to actually push my way through the book. I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. As the story moves towards the climax, everything clicks into place with a reasonably satisfying and quite creative solution. As with the previous book, there’s a bit of a hook or cliffhanger for the next story arc, and I’ll be very interested to see where the story goes next.
~~I received an advanced reader copy of this ebook through Netgalley from the publisher, Del Ray, in exchange for my honest review.~~
Cross-posted on Goodreads.