Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Format: Galley provided by Ballantine Books through NetGalley
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Genre: Fiction, science fiction, robots, I’m not saying it’s aliens … but it’s definitely aliens
Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars
Summary: Seventeen years after 11-year-old Rose falls into the earth and is found cupped inside a giant metal hand, she heads up a top secret team to try and figure out the secrets of this mysterious artifact, whose carbon dating places it at 3,000 years old. In the vein of Illuminae — with less space stuff — Sleeping Giants is told through a collection of interviews, journal entries and other sources which finally answer the question: are we alone in the universe?
Not gonna lie, I almost gave up on Sleeping Giants. I’m not sure if I just wasn’t in the mood for science fiction or the format of the story threw me off, but after reading the first 100 pages, I almost DNFed this … But I’m really glad I didn’t.
So what got me to keep going aside from already spending time reading 1/3rd of the book? It was the origin story of how Neuvel went from self-publishing his novel to getting a movie deal with Sony in a mere month.
Also people really seem to love the story. And how could you not get engrossed in a tale involving ancient aliens and giant robots?
Told through a series of interviews, reports and journal entries all collected by a mysterious man in black type, Sleeping Giants unravels a tale involving aliens, robots, science and some tricky political machinations — and based on the number of files that are missing from the narrative, there’s plenty more intriguing back story to be uncovered.
One of the downsides to the epistolary novel format is that I didn’t really find myself connecting with any of the characters, and I could have cared less about what happened to them throughout the story, good or bad. This was probably due to the cold and clinical interview style of the nameless man, although it should be noted that I did eventually warm to his special brand of humor.
I also found myself incredibly worried while reading that Neuvel would reveal absolutely nothing about the plot — a la Contact — but that fear was largely unfounded. Instead, information is revealed through a really fun story within a story mechanism from an even more mysterious man. This mythology answers some questions, but still leaves plenty to ponder in the upcoming sequel Waking Gods.
Not into aliens or giant robots?
(You must not have liked Pacific Rim.) There’s also plenty of fun political interludes as well, including repeated meetings with the book’s best character Robert Woodhull, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs who has perhaps the best back and forth with our enigmatic interviewer.
While I myself really don’t care who scattered the body parts of a giant robot across the earth 3,000 years ago (spoilers: it was definitely aliens), I do want to find out what happens if and when they return. I would also love to know what the nameless interviewer has to do with all this. Does he just like giant robots, or is this all part of some master plan?
- Giant robots
- Ancient aliens
- Stone faced men with super dry senses of humor
- Stories within stories!
- For the most part, I didn’t find myself caring about any of the characters
- The format can be hard to get into
While I didn’t think I saw myself continuing this series at first, I’m definitely curious to see where things go!
As Neuvel teased in a recent interview: “I love Waking Gods. It’s clearly a sequel to Sleeping Giants, but it’s also a very different experience. There are some answers in there I know people are looking for. There are also interesting new questions being asked. If you liked the epilogue in Sleeping Giants, you’ll really like what comes next. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the stakes are much higher in this one, for the characters, and for all of us.”