REVIEW: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
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?
“The concept of ‘otherness’. 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.”
I received the Goldsboro limited edition of Sleeping Giants as the April 2016 Book of the Month. It’s signed and numbered, with beautiful sprayed black edges. For some reason, I never got around to reading it, despite seeing so many positive reviews on Litsy and Goodreads. A girl falls into a hole and lands on a giant metal robot hand – why didn’t I read this immediately?! I wish I had read it sooner as it was absolutely brilliant. I stayed up until 4.30am as I couldn’t put it down. The only good thing about waiting this long is that I don’t have long to wait for the sequel, Waking Gods (I have the matching limited edition pre-ordered from Goldsboro).
“I was smart enough to know it was wrong, but not brave enough to stop them.”
Written in epistolary style, the book is comprised of journal entries, mission logs, official reports, news articles, and interview transcripts, that together make up the Themis Files. The unconventional writing style doesn’t hinder the story at all; Neuvel successfully ensures it remains compelling and readable. Despite a lot of information being withheld by the unnamed central narrator, Neuvel revealed enough to make the characters interesting and ensure that the reader wants to learn more about them. I particularly liked the flawed pilot Kara Resnik – she’s intelligent, capable, and independent. I’m really looking forward to finding out more about her in the sequel.
“It does not matter. You train your soldiers to kill using video games. They blow enough people up on their computer and it becomes easier for them to kill with a real weapon. Why do you think your government funds so many war and terrorism movies? Hollywood does your dirty work for you. Had 9/11 happened twenty years earlier, the country would have been in chaos, but people have seen enough bad things on their television screen to prepare them for just about anything. We do not really need to talk about government conspiracies.”
Neuvel explores the far-reaching consequences of the discovery of alien technology in a realistic and nuanced way. Sleeping Giants focuses on the impact of the technology on world politics and warfare. Instead of exploring the possibility of a threat from somewhere beyond earth, countries begin a race to own and weaponise the technology for their own gain. Their short-sightedness leaves the reader wondering when they’ll suffer for their tunnel-vision. I hope this is explored further in Waking Gods and that the stakes are consequently upped.
If you haven’t read this yet, what are you waiting for?! It’s thought-provoking, compelling, and fast-paced. I think there are initial plans for a trilogy but I really hope the second book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger as I don’t want to wait another year for answers!
I would definitely recommend this book – EXPLORE THE THEMIS FILES NOW!
About the Author
Sylvain Neuvel dropped out of high school at age 15. Along the way, he has been a journalist, worked in soil decontamination, sold ice cream in California, and peddled furniture across Canada. He received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago. He taught linguistics in India, and worked as a software engineer in Montreal. He is also a certified translator, though he wishes he were an astronaut. He likes to tinker, dabbles in robotics and is somewhat obsessed with Halloween. He absolutely loves toys; his girlfriend would have him believe that he has too many, so he writes about aliens and giant robots as a blatant excuse to build action figures (for his son, of course).