A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.
Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.
But some can never stop searching for answers.
Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?
Sleeping Giants caught my eye right around when it first came out on display at my local Barnes and Noble because I mean come on have you seen the cover? Gorgeous graphic design aside, I put off purchasing and reading it for several months because I had several other things to read at the time. When the sequel, Waking Gods, popped up as an ARC on NetGalley, I figured it was about time I started it.
And I’m so glad I did.
Sleeping Giants is such a cool book.
The main story revolves around a giant robot that has been broken into pieces and strewn across Earth. Physicist Dr. Rose Franklin – who also happened to discover the first piece of the robot – and colleagues are placed in charge of articulating the monstrosity and figuring out all the mysteries that encompass it. It’s full of exciting twists and just enough hard science to keep me – a student currently majoring in biochemistry – interested, but not so much that it would be inaccessible for a reader with minimal science background. Also, a story featuring women in science that doesn’t revolve around their gender but actually about, well, the science/saving the world? Count me in.
It has been compared to World War Z and The Martian, but I don’t really think it’s all that similar to either of those works. Though it’s told in interview/file style like World War Z and is as quick and witty as The Martian, it reminds me much more of the film Arrival than any other book I’ve read (though I believe Arrival is based on a book, so perhaps it’s like that :P).
Sleeping Giants never felt slow to the point where I wanted to stop reading, but there were some moments that did feel a bit longer than they needed to be. Though I can see how the interview style of writing can definitely be a major detraction for some people, Neuvel does a really great job at keeping the story interesting and moving along. He includes bits and pieces of other types of reports – like news articles and diary entries – to break up the interviews with the main characters, which add to the story and create a more genuine tale.
Unlike World War Z, Sleeping Giants follows a handful of main characters, which allows Neuvel to develop them and allows the reader to grow attached to them. For me, this made Sleeping Giants that much better of a book.
Basically, I’m a sucker for pretty covers and character development, and Sleeping Giants had both. It’s also written by a Canadian author and features a Quebecois main character, which is cool for me because I’m half French Canadian myself.
My main criticism for Sleeping Giants is that it doesn’t quite feel like its own story, it felt more like the beginning of one. The whole novel feels like rising action. I didn’t feel the full brunt of this as (thanks to an ARC from NetGalley) I was able to jump right into the sequel, Waking Gods, immediately after finishing, but the feeling was definitely there. Obviously, this is the first book in a series and you want to leave readers with a cliffhanger, but Sleeping Giants‘s cliffhanger felt more jarring than your average one.
Overall, Sleeping Giants was a great book and is definitely worth a read, especially if you’re a fan of space, robots, interview-style storytelling, or any combination thereof. If anything, I’d recommend waiting the few months so that you can read Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods back to back…trust me; it’s worth it. Sleeping Giants is a tale for sci-fi fans and non-sci-fi fans alike, and a brilliant first novel by Sylvain Neuvel.
Keep an eye out for the sequel, Waking Gods (out April 4, 2017)!
What I am is very much a function of what I am not. If the “other” is the Muslim world, then I am the Judeo-Christian world. If the other is from thousands of light-years away, I am simply human. Redefine alterity and you can erase boundaries.