The Reapers are coming! The Reapers are coming! Honestly, I spent most of the audiobook wanting to play Mass Effect, wondering if this is the type of situation humanity underwent after finding the first ME station. Because if so, then I have a pretty good idea what comes next. AND I WANT IT NOW.
by Sylvain Neuvel
Del Rey, April 2016
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies
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’m pretty sure I’ve had this book on my mental TBR ever since it came out, actually, though I didn’t think it had been published only this year. For some reason I thought I’d heard about this book even before 2016, though I suppose it could also have been because I saw it in NetGalley or something.
In any case, I found this on my library’s Overdrive database and decided to listen to it in audiobook format. I think it may have been a better choice to do so, because the voice actors gave the interviews and journal entries a bit more personality than had I just been reading transcripts. Not that the writing in Sleeping Giants was colorless otherwise, but I can see it get potentially boring when most of the narration is conveyed through dialogue (honestly, it was all “telling” and not “showing”), some of which were pretty clunky when it got to the science-y parts. Personally, I wasn’t too bored, but I love science and math and a great deal of speculative fiction, so this book was certainly a lovely marriage of all three (I guess this makes it a love triangle, haha).
A girl falls into a giant glowing blue hand. Years later, she becomes a physicist who researches said giant glowing blue hand. Eventually, she declares that perhaps the hand isn’t man-made after all, and that it came from SPACE. And did I mention the giant glowing blue hand is only part of a giant glowing blue alien robot?!
For those who are not familiar with the form of Sleeping Giants, the story is largely told in epistolary format. It follows the accounts of a group of people working on a project as devised by some unnamed interviewer (who I’m just going to call Mr. Robot Man because why the hell not). Their mission: to gather, study, put together, and work the mysterious alien pieces found all over the world. Through news article clippings, Mr. Robot Man interviews, and personal logs, the reader gets a piecemeal view of the overall story. The files take several jumps in between, but combined they’re enough to tell the story Neuvel wanted to convey.
Which brings me to the character list and how very few of them there are.
It was hard to like some of them, even harder to dislike others. Mr. Robot Man himself retains enough of a mystery that one never really knows who he is other than how strongly he feels about “The Project” at hand. He also has a dry sense of humor, which kind of gets kudos from me. His soliloquys did get annoying, though, so I’m often on the fence with him. That said, he was probably my favorite male character in the books. Well, I suppose Mr. Kung Pao Chicken was a hoot and a half as well (do you see what happens when I have to assign unnamed characters nicknames?!).
As for the females…well. The book certainly took full use of certain archetypes. Dr. Rose Franklin is your female Oppenheimer, with a mind that certainly runs away to crevices even some brilliant minds of her ilk are not capable of seeing. She is sympathetic and down-to-earth despite the fact that her theories of the giant robot pieces point her space-ward. Then you have Kara Resnik, the hot shot jock girl pilot who’s got a mean mouth and quite the attitude problem. (And honestly, every time I get to her interviews/accounts, I just see and hear Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica…and oh, lookie here, her name in the show is Kara, too!).
Characters aside, some of the story did go into a standstill in the latter half of the book. I’m all for the interview format and thensome, but at some point a love triangle took over the middle part of the book, and it drove me absolutely nuts. I was almost compelled to skip the interviews because I felt like the triangle was added there to make more complications that really weren’t necessary. I mean, honestly, there’s a whole portion of the plot where two guys pretty much go out of their way to make stupid mistakes to impress one girl who’s–let’s be honest here–probably only using them for sex anyway. I just…ugh, that was pretty much my only complaint. Bring in more science and less love triangles, I say!
Overall, though, I did enjoy Sleeping Giants. The ending was pretty cliffhangery, so I will definitely have to pick up the next book to see what happens next. It made me think about Mass Effect, which is practically my favorite game EVER. To be honest, I started imagining Sleeping Giants as a sort of prologue type of story for when humans eventually make first contact with its alien neighbors. (Hah, again, ME thoughts went wild there. “First Contact”, tee hee!).
4 out of 5 cookies!