Book Review

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants

Rating: ★★★★★

Sleeping Giants opens in South Dakota as Rose Franklin, an eleven-year-old girl, sneaks out of her house to ride her new bike before it gets too dark.  Whilst out, she falls into a hole in the ground.  When she comes to, she can see the rescue team staring anxiously down at her, and at what she has landed on.  For this is no natural hole – the walls are too smooth, and intricately carved, glowing with a turquoise light.  And at the bottom, her landing mat is the palm of a giant metal hand.

Several years later and Dr Rose Franklin, now a gifted physicist, is reunited with the mysterious artefact as she and her team begin to study it and attempt to uncover its secrets and what it means for mankind.  And, if there’s a hand, might there be an arm that it connects to…

Thousands of year old, and yet technologically superior to anything we could manufacture today, it is a discovery with astounding implications and incredible potential – for technology, religion and of course, the military.

Sleeping Giants is told in an epistolary format, largely through interview transcripts between the various characters who are part of Rose’s team and a nameless interviewer.  I’m a big fan of epistolary novels, and I think that it works brilliantly in Sleeping Giants, as the reader is given both an insight into the characters as well as gradually learning more about the hand, its capabilities and what the discovery means for mankind.  Each interview / journal extract etc. is given its own file number.  Intriguingly, there are gaps – file 121 is followed by file 126, which is in turn is followed by file 129.  The reader is left to wonder what is missing in between the information that is provided, and what has been withheld.  I felt that I was reading a selection of documents that had been put together for… someone, and I’m curious to know who.

I found the nameless interviewer to be a fascinating individual, and I hope we find out more about him (I do believe it’s a man) in future novels.  Something of a puppet-master, he has almost complete control over the project, yet his name is not revealed nor his exact role clarified.  He has the ear of the President of the United States, yet I didn’t get the feeling that he is a politician or part of the military – he seems to have autonomy from both.  He at least acts as though he does.   I loved the extra element of mystery added by this individual, and I wondered who Rose and her team are ultimately working for.

Inevitably, Sleeping Giants becomes more politically-focused as the novel progresses.  There’s only so long that such a discovery can be kept under wraps, particularly as they begin to test its capabilities.  This leads to a predictable level of posturing between nations, as they seek to neutralise and / or lay claim to the findings.  I found this clamouring for position to be extremely realistic, and it’s easy to extrapolate and see how such a discovery could cause tension between nations, with the potential to escalate the already tense relations around the globe.

Sleeping Giants is an excellent blend of science fiction and thriller, and is quite possibly my favourite book of the year so far.  Highly recommended, even if you’re not normally a sci-fi fan.

Sleeping Giants is book one of the Themis Files, and book two – Waking Gods – is currently scheduled for publication in April 2017.  There are so many threads to pick up, so many questions to answer, and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.  Particularly as it ends on one hell of a cliff-hanger!

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