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Title: Sleeping GiantsSpring Book Review Button
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
ISBN: 9781101886694
No. of Pages: 320
Genre: Science Fiction
Origins: Del Ray
Release Date: 26 April 2016

Synopsis:

“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?”

My Thoughts: Giant robot parts and conspiracy theories abound in Sleeping Giants, which sounds weird. However, it turns out that the two make for an intense and addictive story. This is further helped by the method in which Mr. Neuvel unfolds the plot. While you may be groaning and bemoaning the fact that it is yet another story told through transcribed interviews, surveillance documentation, and other epistolary means, rest assured that it is a storytelling method that works well for this creepy, science-laden novel. You get a layman’s understanding of any science-based descriptions without the need for long, explanatory passages. Also, it leaves no doubts about the fact that there are other forces at play for the giant robotic parts. This, in turn, increases the tension in a way that would be difficult to accomplish had the story been told via third-person or omniscient narrators.

While the story opens with and revolves around Rose and her quest for answers, it is also a novel about the folly of mankind, its arrogance, innate curiosity, and need for domination. We have all seen enough superhero movies to know just what happens when giant robots enter a scene, so the hunt for answers regarding these mysterious robot parts is fraught with power struggles and hidden agendas. As mentioned earlier, the way in which Mr. Neuvel tells the story allows readers to catch fleeting glimpses of these opposing agendas so that you know they are there, but the story is so engaging that these glimpses prove to be nothing more than something passing on the periphery. You notice they are there but pay them no mind while the story holds your interest, which it does over and over again. This results in what could be termed split reading experiences. You are reading the story at face value, enjoying the characters’ many quirks and personalities. At the same time, your subconscious mind cannot help but absorb and mull over the various clues buried within the story. Eventually, the two experiences merge together as the different agendas come to the fore and things will click into place once they do. Before then though, you are just reading a very creative, fast-paced, and entertaining story without giving a second thought to the underlying mysteries outside of the metal hand.

Be warned that Sleeping Giants is the first book in a series, but I do not think that people reading the book will mind. The story ends with plenty of answers to satisfy those readers who may not want to continue to the next book in the series. That said, I suspect many readers will want to continue the series, not because of the lack of answers but because of the potential questions that still remain. Of course not every question posed within the novel has an answer and one expects resolution in future novels, but that is not what is going to drive people to the sequel. What is going to do that will be the questions readers ask themselves while waiting. This is because Sleeping Giants is one of those novels never really leaves a reader’s subconscious mind. Just as your subconscious is finding certain clues and puzzling over them while you are reading the book, your mind will continue to worry over the story long after you finish it, dreaming up what-if scenarios and recognizing potential plot points. It makes for a surprisingly interactive story that capitalizes on the fun factor.

Make no mistake, Sleeping Giants might be about giant metal body parts and associated power struggles for said parts, it is above all a fun novel. It is a story that unfolds quickly and engages your imagination right from the start, thereby becoming one of those novels you never want to stop reading. Moreover, even though you only get to know the characters through transcripts, their personalities shine larger than life and the dialogue snaps with emotion. It is the type of story that does not take itself too seriously, subtly acknowledging the use of common science fiction plot points and character stereotypes all the while mocking itself for using them. I can see it being a very popular novel this summer specifically because of that mocking vein running throughout the story. Besides, most people love a good conspiracy theory. The fact that it comes with mysterious giant robot parts only enhances the attraction.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

BOTTOM LINE: Creative and fun even while it shows mankind at its greediest.

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