Thank you, Random House Del Rey and NetGalley, for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Sleeping Giants is a story that starts with a little girl named Rose finding a gigantic metal hand that no one has an explanation for. Thirteen years later, by some stroke of fate, Rose is assigned as the lead scientist to find out the origins and uses of this hand. In Rose’s words, “I don’t really believe in fate, but somehow “small world” doesn’t begin to do this justice.”
From here, the story is a wild science fiction ride that delves into mankind, the nature of humans to seek their own destruction, and the fate of the world. It is quickly discovered that the hand is part of a bigger body, and that the parts are scattered around the world under the earth. The ensuing quest brings Rose together with a plucky pilot named Kara, her loyal sidekick Ryan, Vinvernt the linguist, and a geneticist, all being controlled by a mysterious man with no name.
Where to start. Sleeping Giants is a journal/interview/transcription style narrative directed by an unknown player from the past and present perspective. This in itself keeps the reader on their toes; we feel both one step forward and one step behind. On the one hand, we know things that some of the players do not, since our unknown narrator gives tidbits of information to the different players as seen fit. On the other hand, we are finding out about 75% of the events after the fact. This leaves you on the edge of your seat, desperate to see how the knowledge you have was used on their most recent excursion.
Sylvain Neuvel brings together many different factors into a very difficult format, including political implications, psychological profiles, scientific development, and military tactics. Given the way this is all presented, one could understand why the character development would suffer, and yet it doesn’t. Kara, Rose, Vincent and the gang all have distinct personalities, motivations and hopes for what the mission will yield. Our unnamed narrator also managed to have a distinct personality without us knowing anything about his background, history or affiliation. For someone with seemingly little writing experience, this kind of storytelling is magical.
My favorite part of the narrative is how they tie in the Bible, mythologies from around the world, and somehow turn them into this plausible story set in the present day. I am a big myth buff and a bigger history buff, and loved how this story seems to combine the two.
My only gripe is exactly what is one of the things so good about this book, the deft politicking that occurs. This book sometimes reads like a chess board where the reader is losing pieces without knowing where they’ve been attacked. I had to re-read many passages, fearing that I’ve missed something, only to realize it is intentionally omitted. Being someone that always wants to know it all, this drove me a little (good) crazy.
I can’t wait for this book to come out and for the future books in the series. What a cliffhanger to leave us off on! I’m dying here. This book is coming out April 26th, everyone, so keep an eye out! Five out of five waves, for a deep read on a long day of lounging in the sand!