Title: Sleeping Giants (Themis Files #1)
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 26th April, 2016
“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?”
First things first: I had a pretty great time reading this book. Without getting too spoilery, I loved the idea of a giant hand being found that belongs to a giant [something], that can only be found when humans ‘come of age’ at a certain point in their technological evolution. Sylvain Neuvel cleverly works in this giant [something] with human history and mythology – I love that crap – and does a pretty great job of it. The book is a proper page turner that’s easy to read, and I was genuinely excited to see where it would go. BUT. Although I was pretty much hooked by the opening pages, the rest of it just didn’t grab me as much as I hoped it would. The story made a gradual move from being less about science fiction things and more about global politics. I would have liked to have seen more sci-fi stuff, but I suspect this will be setting up a ‘unified Earth’ for the next book.
The writing felt forced at some points and while this didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, it just didn’t seem to fit. For example, in one scene a male character is describing a female character to the mysterious interrogator/overseer of the whole project. I got the feeling that Neuvel wanted to physically describe the female character (who is, of course, beautiful with a painful but secret past), and so just shoved in a conversation between two guys to do so. To be honest I would have preferred no physical description.
And in any case I didn’t really get to know the characters that deeply anyway as I didn’t find there was a whole lot of character building. The beautiful woman with the painful past? We don’t really find out her past (or did we and I blacked out?). What I know of her is that she’s an independent woman in the army, whose last relationship probably ended really badly and it’s left her scarred and please insert another stereotype here. All of the characters fell a bit flat for me, but I’m hopeful that I’ll get to know them better in the next book.
I suspect that the format of the book might have hindered the characters a bit. The book takes the form of a bunch of interview transcripts, reports, journal entries, and news articles, which I think made it quite difficult for me to hear the individual voices of the characters. This structure gave the book some variety, but I think it’s harder to give the characters much personality when the writer can only really communicate them through “official” documents. They came through a little in the personal journals, but for the most part they all sounded like each other..
Even though I have some pretty big issues with the characters and some of the writing in general, I did really enjoy reading Sleeping Giants. If you’re into history and aliens then you’ll probably get a kick out of this book. I’m personally super excited to read the next two books in this trilogy (when they’re released). And the ending????? Seriously. The e n d i n g . If you’ve already read Sleeping Giants and the ending didn’t have you wanting the next book immediately then we mustn’t have read the same book.