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Book Review: Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel

World War Z meets giant robots.


Sleeping Giants

Del Rey, 2016, pages320



An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth - and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

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 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?




It's hard to take a book about people discovering a Voltron-like giant robot seriously, but Sleeping Giants takes a stab at it, and the author's rationale for an advanced alien civilization leaving pieces of a giant robot hidden around the world for humanity to discover and eventually piece together is certainly creative.

Voltron

Narrated in the form of interviews, transcripts, and news bulletins, Sleeping Giants is about a super—secret black box department of the US Government (and later, a shadowy multinational cabal)... discovering pieces of a giant robot hidden around the world and trying to put it together. And, of course, pilot it.

This robot is a girl-robot, as the scientist who studies her and the warrant officer chosen to pilot her discover. So they call her Themis. The first part of the book is unraveling the secret, the missions to obtain more pieces, the discovery of how certain parts of the robot work. Needless to say, eventually there is the part where they figure out it's a weapon (as if there was ever any doubt), and then the big scene where the giant robot walks the Earth and does some damage. Very impressive and will look great on screen.

This is the first in a series. The author lays the groundwork for future books by hinting at just why aliens left this thing on Earth (hint: it's not good news for mankind). Sleeping Giants never quite transcends its premise — c'mon, it's about people discovering that advanced alien technology takes the form of a friggin' giant robot — but if you love giant robots, then you will love this book. And if you don't love giant robots, go see Iron Giant.

Iron Giant






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Tags: books, reviews, science fiction, sylvain neuvel
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