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?
Sleeping Giants is unlike any story I’ve read before. Told in an epistolary format, the reader is engaged right from the beginning. The plot was solid (for the most part), however I found it hard to connect to the characters and I was only really reading for the intrigue of the robot.
Sci-fi, especially adult sci-fi, is not a genre I generally reach for. I was a little apprehensive going into this book, however the writing style and format made for a relatively easy transition that I wasn’t expecting. Although I found the writing style and format very engaging, I still couldn’t connect 100% to the story. Sleeping Giants is told mostly through interviews and personal journal entries and one of the things I didn’t like was that they were not dated. I had a hard time following how much time had passed throughout the novel. I would read an interview thinking it was taking place not long after the previous chapter, only to find out halfway through the interview that three months had passed since the last part of the story. This is just a personal preference, but I feel like I would have liked this more if the journal entries/interviews had been dated, or if this had been told in a different format altogether.
I felt that the writing style made it hard for me to connect to the characters. Since everything was told retrospectively, I didn’t feel like the stakes were as high as they might have been if it was told in a different way. I also didn’t like that since it’s told in mostly interviews/journal entries, whenever something was going down, it was told step by step and I just felt disconnected. It also felt like it was dumping too much info at some points and therefore I found myself zoning out and not really caring. We didn’t really get to see inside the characters heads, all we got to see was what they said in interviews or wrote in journal entries, so I just felt like it was so impersonal.
What the book lacked in character engagement, it made up for in plot engagement. I felt like the plot and the intrigue of the robot was the driving force of Sleeping Giants. It’s certainly why I kept reading. I have to admit, though, that once it got to a certain point (i.e. when they’d found all the body parts), it sort of got more boring. I found myself a little confused for a lot of the story after the body parts had been found and I just wasn’t as intrigued in the story once they’d put together the robot. Initially when the robot was put together, I was intrigued to see what it actually was, but since I had the issues with the time lapses and whatnot, I felt that after a while, I wasn’t as intrigued as I had been. I think the pacing of the book slowed a little once that happened as well. I think I kept reading mostly because I wanted my questions to be answered. It got a little more interesting once Mr. Burns showed up and he gave us a better understanding of what the robot actually is, but I don’t think his character could salvage the plot for the last part of the book. Nonetheless, the cliffhanger definitely shocked me and I started the sequel immediately upon finishing because so many questions. Hopefully the sequel will rectify some of the holes in the story/answer some questions.
Overall, I did enjoy reading this for the most part and was definitely intrigued to find out more about the robot, how it works, etc. but I feel like it could have been a much stronger read if a different style of writing had been employed. I would recommend this if you’re looking for a book to transition you into the adult sci-fi genre, though be aware that there’s a lot of political intrigue as well. Hopefully I enjoy the sequel a little more than I liked this one!
Thanks so much for reading!