The Themis Files is a deeply human story about a world-changing alien discovery.
17 years ago, a young girl named Rose fell through the ground in the Black Hills and found herself in an underground chamber filled with gleaming symbols, lying in the palm of a giant metal hand. Now a physicist, Rose leads a research team struggling to determine the hand’s origins. When another giant limb is discovered, she quickly devises a method for unearthing the hidden pieces, convinced there is an entire body out there waiting to be found.
Halfway around the globe, Kara watches helplessly as her helicopter shuts down over a pistachio field in Turkey. That’ll leave a mark, but she’s about to crash her way into what might be the greatest endeavor in human history.
This is a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts. Written as a series of interview transcripts, journal entries and mission logs, The Themis Files tells the tale of a handful of people whose lives are inexorably linked by the discovery of an alien device and the commotion that follows.
WOW. I am a huge fan of science fiction and THIS BOOK. JUST WOW. It was an amazing mix of so many things and the concept itself was so philosophical and crazy and unpredictable you had no idea what would happen next in the story. Let’s break things down a little before I implode though:
Format & Protagonist
This book was a mixed media or mixed format kind of book. We read what happened mostly through transcripted interviews but also experiment logs and personal journals from the accounts of characters involved. The interviewer was the most interesting character I think, and that’s because he was the only character constant throughout the book as he asked or prompted a lot of the questions in the interviews. It got crazier as you read because, at the start, the interviewer seems very neutral and simply asking the questions to gain facts, similarly to the Illuminae series. Then, the interviewer starts giving all these new facts and information that completely derails whatever is happening and we realise that this guy has power. The interviewer ultimately becomes one of the protagonists (if you would call him that) despite the fact that we don’t know who he is, how he knows everything or at least has so many connections and what his real objectives are. It’s a goddamn mystery that honestly hooked me in so much!
Writing & Action
For a book told through mainly interviews, you’d think it’d be hard to visualise and imagine what’s happening but it was written so well that I could distinguish between certain characters without even checking who the interview was with because they all had such unique voices and mannerisms. The simplest of sentences had me shook during the action and honestly when it came to the parts where it wasn’t an interview but like a transcript of the live feed audio, the power of the character actually not saying anything was amazing because I was on the edge of my seat. Like, what’s happening?? I don’t know, I can only keep reading and think of the worst! The writer’s ability to describe what’s happening from the point of view of each character was so good because they never lost their personality and still described it so well. I was able to connect to each of these personalities and empathise but interestingly enough, the majority of the time it seems like the reader is bound to empathise the most with the interviewer because we can slowly start to see his objectives and we can interpret his opinion of certain people through the way he asks the questions or gives away crucial info (funnily enough, which half the time the interviewee doesn’t know about and is so shocked it’s hilarious).
Political Drama & Realism
I loved this book so much too because it honestly reminded me of those political or law dramas like Suits or Designated Survivor because it was so much about saving face with countries and trying to figure out to do what you want without starting a full on nuclear WW3. The fact that one choice can save or doom you because of politics and the mear idea of what an action could suggest was so fun. The mixed format writing made this even better, like those tv shows, in that it felt fast paced even though this book is spanned over like 8-10 years! From one interview to the next, so much had happened, all these new decisions and movements, it made this book so action packed. It also felt really realistic, in terms of the science, the potential political decisions the countries would make and how they would react. Although, I’m not sure how this novel would be received in say 30 years when the world would’ve dramatically changed, however, in this decade, the information is so relevant.
I don’t want to give too much away because this is a spoiler free review but you’ll be able to get the gist of things from the blurb above. So basically, humans find a giant freaking hand dated back thousands of years before we could ever do something like it. Obviously = ALIENS. I love alien books omg, I was so excited to read this. The main plot is obviously to find out: how did it get here? what’s it made from? is it dangerous? are there more pieces? and from there, what does it all mean? are aliens sending us a message? are they going to kill us? why is it here? why why-why why-why?!
All these questions are so thought-provoking because they’re real questions we would have if something happened like this in real life, especially when the book is set in real life sometime now. It was that close to an actual possibility, making it even more realistic and like a crazy conspiracy theory. As we find out more information about these pieces, we meet the characters who begin working on the project of putting the pieces together but of course, so many things go wrong because these pieces were scattered thousands of years ago and are so freaking strong and powerful they kill people as they are physically unearthed. The whole idea and the plot were also so unique for me as a science fiction. It brings up questions or theories we’ve previously thought about like if aliens gave us the answer to make fire or create the wheel etc, that made a drastic change on our evolution as people and society as a whole.
I haven’t talked about the characters much in this review partly because they are essential to the plot in my mind. Rose and Kara definitely seem like the protagonists but this book is also so close to being a report or a set of files that it’s hard to figure out who is at the centre of what sometimes. New characters show up all the time, but despite the way it’s written, I could really connect with Rose, Kara and other characters and I also liked the way the author portrayed how human they were. They weren’t perfect, they made mistakes, were impulsive, had regrets and different motivations. I also liked that while there is a bit of romance, but it’s again written quite objectively. There was a tiny minor love triangle but I wouldn’t really call it that, it’s very complicated. If you read it, you’ll get it, but it definitely added flavour to the book and gave me a good shocker and a laugh.
As you’d know, I’m a sucker for books that make me question things, think deeply about them well after I’ve read the book and this was a winner. The writing was amazing, the action and drama were crazy, the characters were commendable and I wish I had the next two books with me right now! This is definitely a fav science fiction novel and I hope you all read it one day then tell me what you think.
Until next time,