Waking Gods begins right where Sleeping Giants ends – almost.
It’s almost 10 years later and in the middle of London, one of the giant alien robots has appeared with no explanation and no one is quite sure how to interact with it. Is it a threat? Did it come with peaceful intentions? What are it’s intentions?
In the heart of London, the alien robot stands, ultimately unwelcome which causes unease with the British government who decide to send in troops to confront the giant robot – then things get bad.
The giant robot responds to this confrontation by wiping out most of London killing over one hundred thousand people. Then things get really messy.
Waking Gods is an extraordinary sequel to Sleeping Giants however I could not help but notice how many familiar plot points it shared with other rather well known alien invasion stories. War of the Worlds, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Independence Day & Pacific Rim are four that stood out. I’m still debating with myself if Neuvel was simply giving hat-tips to these stories or “borrowed” some of their more powerful plot points since he could not come up with something equally compelling on his own.
Several scenes from The Day the Earth Stood Still seemed to be reworked in Waking Gods that I couldn’t help but notice. For instance, when Klaatu (the human-like alien) warns of his robot Gort’s power was strangely evoked in the novel.
Klaatu: I’m worried about Gort. I’m afraid of what he might do if anything should happen to me.
Helen: Gort? But he’s a robot. Without you, what could he do?
Klaatu: There’s no limit to what he could do. He could destroy the Earth.
Albeit the robots in Waking Gods are much larger and can’t do anything without their two pilots present (similar to the robots in Pacific Rim) there is this implication that messing with the alien robot, Themis, that was discovered on Earth has upset this alien species to the point they are willing to destroy Earth. (And they park their massive UFO’s in a way that knocks out Earths communication satellites which made me think of Independence Day.)
It is, of course, up to the humans to figure out how to fight back – and this is where a nod to War of the Worlds is strongly evoked – and no, it’s not rain that gets these alien robots to leave, but microorganisms. This is the part of the book that disappointed me the most due to how unoriginal it felt.
Anyway, despite the book seeming to cherry pick elements of some very well known alien-invasion stories and weaving them together in a very stunning way, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. The book hints to another sequel that may give us some perspective on these alien beings which I am looking forward to.
I do recommend Waking Gods.
☆☆☆☆½ – Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel