Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Synopsis from GoodReads:
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?
An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.
I first heard about Sleeping Giants when Claire at Art and Soul reviewed it last year but it took me until earlier this year to find a copy, and then it took me until now to actually read it. And I don’t know why I waited so long because Sleeping Giants is amazing.
I will admit that the epistolary format – told completely through recorded journal entries, interviews, and conversations – can take you out of the action. We read about exciting events after they’ve happened, although sometimes we get to read about right up to when they happen and our narrator falls unconscious or the transmission is interrupted or something else. But I would argue that this – the greatest weakness, arguably – is also the novel’s greatest strength.
Writing in this format allows for mystery, in a way, which is very important for the character who appears most often – The Man Without a Name. We don’t know much of anything about him primarily thanks to the interview format, which helps preserve not only his mystery but who he is to the other characters in the novel. On top of that, the format helps remind us that we are dealing primarily with scientists and a scientific process as the cast studies and pieces together the giant robot.
Speaking of, I loved what we learned about the robot and her creators throughout the novel. I don’t want to say too much, for fear of spoiling things, but I will say that the series name, The Themis Files, fits very well for multiple reasons and I absolutely love why it does.
Although I also like that the title can, in a way, refer to several of the characters in the novel. Not in terms of height, of course, but in the fact that they have something inside of them waiting to ‘wake up’.
On a final note, I love how much this book mentions Michigan, where I live. Two of the characters are from Detroit and talk about schools and places in Detroit that I know, and that was just really cool.
Overall, Sleeping Giants was a phenomenal read, so thank you, Claire, for putting it on my radar!
4 out of 5 stars. I’m very excited to pick up book 2.