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The Themis Files

Reviewed by Galen Strickland

Book 1: Sleeping Giants / Book 2: Waking Gods

"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." - Genesis 6:4, King James Version

This is a cross between science fiction and mythological speculation, as well as an espionage thriller and an apocalyptic scenario. It's gripping and fast-paced, even though most of the action is not directly depicted. Instead it is recounted after the fact in a series of interviews and personal logs of various people involved in a super-secret project to recover and reconstruct what appears to be ancient alien artifacts. The interviewer is a mysterious, never named man, most likely a former (or even current) CIA operative, or maybe some other similar intelligence agency. He's a man who knows how to get things done, both in a logistic sense, as well as his ability to coerce (read, manipulate) other people to get them to do what he wants. He reminded me of the character nicknamed "Mr. Pink" in Weston Ochse's Grunt Life.

The short prologue shows an eleven year old girl in remote South Dakota, who takes her brand new birthday bike for a ride into the woods near her home. The ground beneath her feet collapses, and when she is discovered by rescuers hours later, she is laying in the palm of a giant metallic hand, which in turn is inside a room constructed of similar materials, the walls of which are covered with cryptic symbols. Years later, Dr. Rose Franklin becomes one of the chief researchers into the mysterious artifact that fate saw fit to bring into her life. It is surmised to be just a portion of a whole, and attempts are made to discover other parts of the body and fit them back together. They succeed. When the torso is discovered, they find there is a hatch on the back which opens to reveal interior chambers, a control room, and two consoles believed to be where the "pilots" would operate the robotic beast. Fully constructed it is about 200 feet tall. It is humanoid in form, and it is assumed its creators were as well, with one major difference from homo sapiens. The knees bend in the opposite direction, which could pose difficulties for a human operator.

This has already been optioned for film, although it is too soon to know if it will be completed. Many projects get trapped in development hell, either because of a problem getting an acceptable script, casting, or other production problems. Even if this does make it to the screen, it will likely have to face criticisms due to similarities with other films. The two I thought of while reading were The Iron Giant and Pacific Rim. It still has potential, so script and casting are key to keep those comparisons to a minimum. A second book, Waking Gods, will be released April 4. Suffice it to say I recommend this, and based on the strength of the first book I will be reading the second, although maybe not right away. Some might prefer a more straight-forward narrative technique rather than the interview approach. At least this way there was more than one perspective explored. Sorry for such a short review, but I wanted to keep spoilers to a minimum.


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Sylvain Neuvel


Amazon Links:
Sleeping Giants
Waking Gods (available 4/4/17)