Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

This is my review of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel.

This book is about a young girl named Rose who is out biking on her new bike and falls into a sinkhole. She lands in a huge metal hand and is rescued by her parents and neighbors. 15-odd years later an adult Rose is working to figure out what the hell the big arm is, and why is there only an arm? Should it be attached to something like a torso? She is joined by two military pilots and some scientists to figure out how it works and where it came from. The whole thing seems to be funded by some sort of shady government organization.

The whole book is told through interviews and case files so everything you learn is filtered through people’s opinions and suspicions. And if something dramatic happens you don’t get to see it right away you get the after-the-fact interview. I liked that way of telling a story, I thought it was fun and while it isn’t like very original, it’s certainly something that’s been explored before, I thought Neuvel did it well. All the interviews and articles and everything are marked with case file numbers and some of the numbers are skipped, presumably indicating that there are files we don’t get to read so there is information we’re missing.

I enjoyed the characters. I feel like what we get from them is really interesting. Rose is dedicated and tough and a bit too dedicated at times. Kara is grumpy and sarcastic and that’s basically how I like them. I felt like both the main male characters were a bit annoying, but Mitchell more than Vincent. Mitchell is just too good and all-American and it sort of annoyed me. I enjoyed Vincent more, he’s unpleasant and rude and self-involved. I’m worried I have lost the ability to read about likeable characters. I also liked the person who interviews them all. He is referred to as ‘sir’ at some point so I assume it’s a man. He was snarky and rude and I liked him very much. He is completely relentless and ruthless, and he rationalizes it and gets people to think that what he did was good no matter how awful he is.

I found the story really fascinating. It’s basically an alien story, but there are no aliens. There’s just this perceived threat of them at all time. It’s also a look at how the world sort of shifts when one nation, in this case the States, has a weapon that no other nation has. It’s sort of like the whole atomic bomb race, except this weapon isn’t something every other nation can just make as well. This is a weapon they’ve discovered and taken ownership of, and even if they say it belongs to the world it is significant that it is in the US and that they are the ones who are researching it and who have control of it. It also looks at what can happen when the wrong person has control of a huge weapon. When someone takes over the project from Rose it really explicitly shows what goes wrong when the wrong person leads such a big project. And how bad it can be, because whoa.

I feel like even though I liked the format and the story and characters I would have liked more different types of media. There are interviews, and basically like three articles and a couple of diary entries. I wish there were more variations in format.

It was quite good. It wasn’t mindblowing, but as far as I know it is the first in a series and I think I will continue with the series. The story was good and I liked the concept. It was fun.