Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

By Ekta R. Garg

April 27, 2016

Genre: Science fiction

Rated: Bookmark it! / 4 stars

A woman gets to use her career to investigate a strange childhood occurrence. What starts as a fascination with a scientific anomaly turns into an obsession for her and her team, and they vow to solve the secrets of their discovery…if the government doesn’t get in the way first. Debut novelist Sylvain Neuvel offers readers a book that is part science fiction, part political thriller, but most of all a compelling story with the best balance between character and plot in the exciting new release Sleeping Giants.

Renowned physicist Rose Franklin receives the assignment of a lifetime: she gets to examine a rare artifact to determine its origin and also its purpose. But this artifact holds more than professional weight for Rose. It’s a giant hand made of a mysterious material. When Rose was a girl, she went for a bike ride and found herself falling through a hole in the ground. Rescue workers found her in the palm of the giant hand, and almost as soon as Rose was rescued the hand disappeared.

Now, years later, Rose gets the opportunity to study the hand. A government agent gives Rose unlimited access to resources and a top-notch team of scientists, but he gives her no details about himself or exactly what he wants with the hand. He does make one thing clear, however. The hand is not an isolated body part. There are more.

Rose juggles the relationships with and between her colleagues as well as the excruciating efforts it takes to recover the other parts, and soon enough they put together the form of a woman. The unnamed government agent knows the woman, some sort of sophisticated robot, belongs to a larger set. The agent wants to find all of the robots, and he wants Rose and her team to get the first robot working to access its potential power.

Everything about the robot suggests it wasn’t created by a human faction. The more Rose and her team work on the mission, the more they realize the robot could finally provide the world with a key to communicate with an alien race. As Rose grapples with her own past connection to the hand as well as its implications for her future career, she and the others navigate a bevy of challenges. Only the unnamed government agent understands, however, just how grave the situation has become.

Debut author Sylvain Neuvel accomplishes a rare feat: a book that technically falls under the heading of one genre while fulfilling the attributes of so many others. Moreover, he tells the entire story through meeting transcripts, diary entries, and newspaper articles. At first glance readers might suspect that Neuvel’s method will keep them at arm’s length from the characters and the main plot, and in the hands of a less capable author this would certainly be the result. Neuvel, however, proves himself to be more than capable. His story and his approach to it are both brilliant.

The characters balance each other well, and Neuvel allows readers to get close to the key players. He saves his masterstroke for the unnamed government agent. The agent comes across as a politician, a person serving his own interests. Further into the book, however, readers will realize that the agent’s motivations go deeper than greed or a brash display of power, and that’s when the real fun begins.

The book contains all the elements of an enthralling novel: action; intrigue; romance; and a delicious twist. Lovers of most kinds of fiction will thoroughly enjoy this book, the first in the proposed Themis Files series. I highly recommend readers Bookmark Sleeping Giants.