When a young girl fell into a large hole during a bike ride, she never expected to land in the palm of a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, the same girl, Rose Franklin, is the physicist leading the team studying the secret behind the hand that started it all. More giant metal parts are being found around the world, together forming a strange alien mechanism, but what it does, where it came from, and how long it has been buried beneath the Earth’s surface still remains a mystery. Ever closer to completely assembling the mechanism than before, Rose and her colleagues find themselves being interviewed by a nameless man who seems just as interested in the mechanism as they are. What will the completion of this strange puzzle bring?
Author Sylvain Neuvel has made his way into the science fiction genre with his debut novel Sleeping Giants. While it is not considered part of the hard science fiction genre, it is written in a way that makes it seem more realistic than other stories and this makes it a rather intriguing read. The story itself is told in the form of interviews, journal entries, news articles, and mission reports, making it read similarly to books such as Andy Weir’s The Martian, Dave Cravens’ The God Thought, and Patrick Sheane Duncan’s Dracula vs. Hitler. Due to this, Neuvel has written his entire story through some sort of dialog, a feat not easily achieved (not really since H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine), but a feat Neuvel should be commended on.
With bountiful dialog, the characters play an important part in keeping the story going. There are a handful of main characters ranging from a physicist to a pilot to a graduate student to a geneticist to the assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. A treat readers will discover in the story is that Neuvel gave each of characters special attention and carefully developed them so that each would have his or her own personality and voice. Readers will find themselves knowing exactly which character is speaking just by reading the dialog. The big mystery lies in one character that is never named: the one conducting the interviews with the other characters. Very little is known of this character with the exception that they are most likely a male and even when the characters ask about him, he refuses to answer or redirects their questions. This proves to be yet another intriguing feature in Neuvel’s story.
Perhaps the only downside to Sleeping Giants is its set up. Readers will learn a great deal about the characters and an even greater deal about all that is being discovered about the giant mechanism, which is fascinating in and of itself; however, the story moves rather slowly and will make readers wanting more upon completion. (Luckily, Neuvel released its sequel Waking Gods shortly after the first, but one should not read its synopsis unless one wishes for spoilers.) However, just because the story takes a while to set up does not mean it is not worth reading. Neuvel keeps readers guessing during the whole book and wanting to read one more chapter because they want to know what happens next. And it really is worth making it to the end for, without revealing any spoilers, a major happening begins to unfold.
If one is looking for a science fiction book to read that does not follow the norm, look no further than Sleeping Giants. Neuvel has created a world that is believable without being completely true and will keep readers guessing until the very end. His well-developed characters and his incredible use of dialog keep the story flowing at a good pace, making readers say, “Okay, one more chapter.” Upon completion, readers who enjoyed the story should probably purchase its sequel, for they will most likely wish to know what happens next.
Originally published at rolloutreviews.com on August 6, 2017.