Germany, 1945. Mia, a nineteen-year-old girl, is sent by the OSS to find Wernher von Braun. Her mission: stop the Russians getting hold of Germany – and the world’s – foremost rocket scientist.
Von Braun is suspicious. And so he should be. For Mia is no ordinary girl. She only looks human. And helping the Allies win the Second World War is but one part of her plan. Because there’s an even darker conflict on Earth. A secret struggle thousands of years old. It has engulfed and taken generations of Mia’s people. But can the firing of rockets finally bring about its end?
Can I say I really like anything that has to do with history, Nazi Germany, rockets, aliens, multi-generational drama, cloning, space travel and the gorier the better. And if you get a passionate writer like Sylvain Neuvel who does his research right and has good knowledge of robotics (as witnessed in the Themis files), you got yourself a banger novel.
- Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1) by Sylvain Neuvel
- Waking Gods (Themis Files #2) by Sylvain Neuvel
- Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel
The story follows Mia, the 99th daughter of an alien. How do we know she’s an alien of an ancient civilisation? From her mother, and her mother before her and her mother and grandmother before them. From before Babylonian times, the Kibsu follow a few rules: Always run, never fight.
Preserve the knowledge.
Survive at all costs.
Take them to the stars.
Their only goal is to drive humankind through any means necessary to reach spatial travel. Through jumps in the past we can see that Mia’s line has been blessed with a few gifts: high IQ and the ability to mate with any human and the resulting babe will be a perfect clone of the mother. Down to the blood.
Neuvel uses real people as characters – Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev.
“He and most of his colleagues were arrested during the Great Purge. They said he was slowing down work at the research institute. Stalin labeled them “members of an anti-Soviet counterrevolutionary organization.” Korolev was tortured for days until he “confessed.” The charges against him were eventually reduced to sabotage. He got a new trial. Only he didn’t know. He was already on his way to the gulag. He went to a gold-mine prison with six hundred people. Six months later, when they found him, there weren’t even two hundred of them left. Now he has to work for the people who did that to him.”
Just as in our own history, both have a major part to play in the advancement of space flight, though here we see Mia and her mother, Sarah, aiding them in escaping Nazi Germany so they can assist the Soviets in the space race.
I really loved that the author picked women to carry the lines. Smart women in times were they would be drowned as witches. Beautiful women who went from free to slaves to queens of nations.
But it all boils down to two issues: They are hunted by the male of the species who seems to have gone crazy through the centuries (who can also create clones of himself by possibly forcibly mating with human womens), and they also carry violent genes who make them kill. They are both alien killers. And it looks like the male of their species knows a bit more of their purpose than what the woman does. He wants to kill her (slowly) and torture her until she reveals where the device is – what device? – We don’t quite know but we can put together it might be something from their ship when they landed. Something to call the others here.
There are also a few chapters from the Tracker point of view, which tend to raise more questions than answers. Both groups, the Kibsu and the Tracker, are ruthless killers in pursuit of their goals, so it’s hard to really sympathize with anyone here. Complete answers about these people are never given, and the novel ends with the overall plot entirely unresolved.
Can’t wait for Book 2 and 3 and see where this epic journey leads.
“Scientific ignorance paired with religious extremism leads to all kinds of craziness, including throwing people into rivers to see if they float.”