Reading Level: Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Themis Files series
Source: eGalley through NetGalley.com
Rating: 2/5 stars
17 years ago: A girl in South Dakota falls through the earth, then wakes up dozens of feet below ground on the palm of what seems to be a giant metal hand. Today: She is a top-level physicist leading a team of people to understand exactly what that hand is, where it came from, and what it portends for humanity. A swift and spellbinding tale told almost exclusively through transcriptions of interviews conducted by a mysterious and unnamed character, this is a unique debut that describes a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts.
I have had this book to review since last year. I like to review books the month before they release so I finally read it this month. I ended up being fairly disappointed. The idea behind the story is interesting but there are too many inconsistencies throughout. Unfortunately this is going to be a tough one to review without spoilers, but I will try. I will also call out later in the review the section that contains spoilers.
The whole concept of this book is that parts of a giant robot are being found throughout the world. A secret entity is taking it upon itself to collect these parts and assemble to robot as a whole.
The whole book is done in an interview/journal format. In the majority of the entries feature the main characters being interviewed by an unknown third party. It was an interesting format for a novel and made it so that the reader had to piece different perspectives together to get the whole story. However, as a result of this format it’s tough to engage with the characters and really understand their motivations.
I also really enjoyed all the science in the book. There is a lot of linguistic theory, math theory, physics, and some genetics as well. None of it is all that tough to follow, there’s just enough to allow the reader to learn some new things. At times all this info does come off as a bit of a data dump, but that didn’t bother me all that much.
Okay, so let’s move on to what did bother me…and there is quite a bit. There are a number of inconsistencies throughout the story. I am talking blatant inconsistencies that were major plot drivers which had me incredibly frustrated (I’ll go into detail in the spoiler section).
Additionally I really found the author’s attitude to the whole scenario to be very pessimistic and disturbing. Basically this whole book focuses on the negative of every aspect. The humans involved with finding the pieces of the giant are selfish and conniving. The governments involved; rather than getting their technical communities to band together (as they do in The Martian) decide to threaten with World War IV. Everything is so incredibly negative.
The biggest inconsistency that drove me bonkers was the way the robot helmets could heal people. They healed the main pilot of her eye wounds and a head wound. The helmet basically made her healthy enough to run her portion of the robot. However when Vincent has his legs driven into and broken, a huge amount of the plot is spent dealing with this set back (since he runs the robot legs). He goes through surgery and rehabilitation etc etc. I kept thinking…uh why don’t you just put the helmet on him and have it heal him? I didn’t understand why the helmet healed one thing but not another; it was random and inconsistent. Additionally a huge amount of the story was based around the fact that Vincent needed all this surgery to heal.
Okay next annoyance. Why did the initial leg pilot decide to run Vincent over with a truck? What did I miss here? Yes he was jealous of Vincent I get that. But it was totally out of character for him and never explained well.
Oh and then all these super smart characters are like, OMG this robot can be used as a weapon?! Holy cow imagine that…we are stunned with surprise!
Lastly why was the crazy geneticist allowed so much power over this program? I don’t get it. The unnamed third party had complete control over everything including many first world governments…so why couldn’t this third party control a rogue crazy geneticist? It was weird and inconsistent and just soooo stupid.
The book ends on a cliffhanger, which I thought was predictable and lame. By the end of the book I was incredibly frustrated by the stupidity of these characters with supposed genius level intelligence. The whole writing style seemed poorly paced and didn’t flow well. I think this whole book is best described as a bad giant robot anime; it just wasn’t that well done.
Overall this was a readable, but definitely flawed giant robot sci-fi story. It’s being dubbed as World War Z meets the Martian and this is not an accurate portrayal of the story at all. It’s more like a mash of Days of our Lives meets Mobile Suit Gundam (sorry Gundam). I wouldn’t recommend and am not sure what all the hype was about.