Last year saw a large break-out success in the science fiction genre in the form of Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel. For a spoiler free summary: the book told the story of a young girl who falls through the earth onto a giant’s hand. This young girl grows up to assemble a team of scientists, military, and government officials who set about digging out the giant – tracking down the missing pieces – and assembling them. This is arguably a huge achievement for science, and an incredibly bad/good idea depending on your point of view. Our second book picks up ten years after the first with a new threat looming on the horizon – other giants have arrived on earth.
The main sell of Sleeping Giants was its innovative (yes I know it has been done before, but it still felt fresh) style of using only dialogue to tell the story. The chapters are interviews, conversations, phone calls, radio broadcasts etc. and they keep the book moving at a very fast pace. Dialogue is a lot of fun, and often my favorite part of stories. With the entire story told through talking you can expect lots of great one liners left and right. However, as we move into Waking Gods, the second book in Neuval’s trilogy, the appeal of only dialogue is starting to grow old for me. There are some inherent issues that arise with only dialogue storytelling in the second novel. For starters, the first book lent itself to mostly research, explorations, and discussion – something that dialogue does really well. Book two on the other hand, has a lot of combat and action. And frankly action scenes told only through dialogue, are pretty bad. The idea of two giant colossi duking it out in downtown London gets me hot and bothered, but when it happens in Waking Gods the scene only lasts a few seconds and you can barely tell what is happening. However, that is not to say the book isn’t exciting.
The conflict is successfully elevated from book one, and follows an escalating mystery with the answer preventing human extinction – so the stakes feel high the entire time. The puzzle feels both captivating and well planned, and kept me burning through the book straight until the end. The answer to the mystery was not the greatest reveal of all time, but nor was it disappointing – falling somewhere in the middle of the two. If I had one request it wouild be that I wished the escalation through the book was a little more gradual, as we went from mild concern to pants-soiling terror in a very short period – something I usually like more slowly build up. In addition, the characters range from lovable, to getting on your nerves. The best characters still tend to be the two who we know nothing about, the shadowy government worker conducting all the interviews and the mysterious Mr. Burns. While we know little about them, they have huge personalities and brighten up Waking Gods (which is severely needed as it is not a particularly happy book).
In the end I don’t have that much more to say about Waking Gods, other than if you liked the first book you will likely enjoy the second. I am starting to tire a little of the style, but Waking Gods definitely delivers more of that punchy dialogue I liked in Sleeping Giants with some new mysteries to solve. I would recommend Neuval avoid combat though, unless he comes up with a more interesting way to talk about it. If you enjoyed Sleeping Giants, I recommend you continue on with the series with the next installment, Waking gods.
Rating: Waking Gods – 6.5/10