April 29, 2016 • Cee • Reviews

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel • April 26, 2016 • Del Rey Books (Random House)
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A page-turning debut in the tradition of Michael Crichton, World War Z, and The Martian, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by an earthshaking mystery—and a fight to control a gargantuan power.

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?


I received this book for free from Del Rey for review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

First sentence: “It was my eleventh birthday.”

Imagine the earth opening up below you, and you fall through and land in the palm of a giant metal hand that’s glowing turquoise with weird symbols carved on it. That’s exactly what happens to Rose Franklin when she was little. Nobody knows what this giant metal hand is or where it came from, but it’s there in the ground, and it sets off the greatest sci-fi mystery that Sleeping Giants strives to uncover.

Why You Should Read
Sleeping Giants

  • The story is told through an unconventional narrative—interview case files.

What makes Sleeping Giants work is because of the narrative style. The narrative is told mostly through interviews between an unnamed interviewer and various characters who are taking part in the project. There are the occasional journal entries and military reports here and there, but the interviews take up the bulk of the story.

This narrative doesn’t limit the scope of the story; it may not show the events as it’s happening, but readers still get to experience what happened and how the characters felt through their eyes in the aftermath, which I really liked. This narrative style makes the story and the characters feel more intimate. I thought this was a great way of documenting the progress and events that occurred in the project.

  • The mysterious robotic artifacts will baffle both the characters in Sleeping Giants and readers.

What we know about the giant metal hand: it’s over five thousand years old (according to carbon dating); it’s probably a piece of something even larger; it has weird turquoise symbols that linguists couldn’t decipher; it’s a mystery that has baffled many scientists, and it asks more questions than answers.

It’s not until Dr. Rose Frank;in enters the picture that the project really takes off.

Rose starts asking questions that previous scientists have failed to do, and the first question is: what triggered the hand to appear? When she discovers the answer, she and a team picked out for this project sets out to find the other body parts. As they put the body together, they get something that will stand over 200 feet and find things about it that is so technologically advance for Earth.

The mysterious robot makes everybody—the characters and readers alike—wonder: is this robot proof that there’s alien lifeforms? Or was there an ancient civilization that was extremely technologically advance? What is its purpose? Why was it created? Is it a weapon? What does the turquoise symbols mean? These are questions that will stir in your brain, and it may or may not be answered in Sleeping Giants.

  • You get a group of characters who will do whatever is necessary to keep this giant robot project going.

The mysterious interviewer brings together a team that’ll help uncover and do research on the robotic artifacts that are found, and he recruits:

  • Dr. Rose Franklin, a physicist who fell into the giant metal hand when she was little and is in charge of leading the team;
  • Kara Resnik, a hot-tempered pilot who becomes a key player in finding the robotic parts and figuring out how it works;
  • Ryan Mitchell, another pilot who works alongside Kara and is referred to as an all-American underwear model;
  • Vincent Couture, the young French-Canadian linguist who manages to decode the symbols;
  • Alyssa Papantoniou, a geneticist with a stammer who doesn’t seem to get along with anybody;

And of course, I’m not forgetting the mysterious, yet cunning interviewer who pulls the strings and never lets his cards be exposed.

All these characters are committed to keeping this project alive. They’ll do whatever’s necessary, and the lengths they will go…it’s absolutely riveting.

  • Sleeping Giants does an excellent job exploring the moral and ethical issues that comes with pursuing this technological mystery.

Are you okay with unintentionally killing people during the pursuit of giant robotic body parts? Possibly starting World War III for digging out said body parts in other countries without permission? Is the project really worth risking people’s lives and the complicated political relationships between the United States and Russia? When does this pursuit become unjustifiable? How much are they willing to go? Sleeping Giants does a good job exploring the dilemmas and the complicated position the project puts the United States. It’ll make readers reflect on their own ethics and whether they would pursue this technological mystery that could possibly be an important defense even if it threatens innocent lives.

  • You can see a bit of The Martian, Pacific Rim, and The Iron Giant.

You know what Sleeping Giants remind me of? The Martian with the way the characters talk about science (it’s similar to Mark Watney with his numbers), Pacific Rim with the Jaegers (the giant robots that were designed to be piloted by two individuals), and The Iron Giant with the mysterious giant robot that may or may not be ~of this world (well, okay, it’s actually nothing like this movie since it’s not sentient. Robot hands always make me think of this movie).

When you get into the story and certain things are revealed, I bet you you’ll go, “Ahhh, I see it.”

Should you read Sleeping GiantsUhhh, duh! Join these characters in their pursuit to reassemble this giant robot and discover what it’s capable of doing. It’s a super compelling sci-fi thriller that’ll have you devouring this book quickly. Sleeping Giants gives you a lot of interesting science (I cannot vouch for it’s accuracy), giant robot craziness, a mysterious interviewer, government conspiracies, moral and ethical dilemmas, and plenty of “oh shit” moments.


2 Responses to “REVIEW • In Pursuit of Giant Robots (Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel)”

  1. Ashley G. says:

    Oh, this sounds really interesting!

  2. Alexa S. says:

    Sleeping Giants sounds so different from what I’d normally read! But I’m really drawn to the mystery of that hand, and I really would like to see what these characters make of it and what it means for all of them. Lovely review, Cee!

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