Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants is a 320 page novel scheduled to be published by Del Rey in April 2016. I received an e-book copy pre-release from NetGalley. Some changes may be made by the time it publishes, so this review is just for the galley of the book.

Sleeping Giants (Themis Files, #1)We are introduced to Dr Rose Franklin—in a rather unnecessary prologue—during her tumble into a hole in the ground where she discovers a giant, glowing hand. Who dug this hole? We’ll never know! But what we will eventually know is that the rest of the giant parts are mysteriously similar, at least proportionally, to humans. Sleeping Giants is about a host of people on a scientific and paramilitary mission to find and configure all parts of this gorgeous, glowing giant.

I’m a sucker for books that take advantage of multiple writing techniques, and this book thrilled me in that aspect. Blending interviews, journal entries, and newspaper articles, Sylvain Neuvel creates a document that tells a fantastic tale of military intrigue, romance, and wonder. Some of the best opportunities to show kindness–and cruelty–are in humanity’s darkest moments, and Neuvel explores this with his characters in ways that drive the tension of a sci-fi thriller to the next level.

The structure, along with the political what if? tone, reminded me of Max Brooks’ World War Z (one of my favorite books!). However, Neuvel one-ups Brooks by making his interviewer into a character I actually care about. While World War Z takes advantage of the quiet and subtle government employee, Sleeping Giants presents a man with a distinctly emotional investment (although he acts like he doesn’t care) in the lives of the people he interviews–among them a hot-headed female pilot, an arrogant linguist, and a scientist with questionable ethics.

This investment lends a more urgent tone and conveys the interviewer compiling records of the files as the plot develops, rather than composing a historical document after the fact. He often presents himself as working outside of the narrative to discover the real story behind the giant’s presence on Earth, which adds another sci-fi punch to the book.

A solid novel that blends speculative science and military intrigue with a handful of different writing techniques, Sleeping Giants will appeal to fans of sci-fi, political, and epistolary novels alike.

Note that both covers (the US and UK editions, respectively) are absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t decide which I liked better so I had to include both!

UK CoverTITLESleeping Giants
AUTHOR: Slyvain Neuvel
PAGES: 320
ALSO WROTE: Nothing, yet!
SORT OF LIKE: World War Z, The Martian
FIRST LINE: It was my eleventh birthday.


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