Friday, April 15, 2016

Sleeping Giants

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Random House: 4/26/16
eBook review copy; 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9781101886694

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is a highly recommended SF novel about finding parts for a giant robot left by aliens.

The novel is mainly told through transcripts of recorded interviews between an anonymous interrogator/examiner who is questioning the actions and thoughts of the other characters. He is clearly powerful and able to muster unlimited funds and resources to accommodate the participants in the search for the giant robot.

Oh - there is eventually a giant robot, only the parts/body pieces of the robot are buried in various places around the world. The very first part, a giant hand, was discovered when the earth opened up into a 50 foot deep square shaped hole in Deadwood, S.D., and 11 year-old Rose fell into it. She was found in the palm of a giant hand laying at the bottom of the glowing turquoise hole which was lined with 16 panels that have glowing symbols etched into them. The hand and panels are whisked away and hidden by the government.

That little girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklin, who is now the lead scientist on a team who is studying the hand and searching for other body parts after the forearm to the hand is unexpectedly found in Turkey. She figures out a way to search for the other body parts. Brought onto the recovery team are Warrant Officers Kara Resnik and Ryan Mitchell. Later Vincent Couture, a linguist, is added and Alyssa Papantoniou, a geneticist.

The mysterious interviewer brings out the best and the worse in these people as he quizzes them about their work and their thoughts. He is also, always, several steps ahead of them and often it becomes clear that he has his own secret agenda and plans that they know nothing about. He can be very formal, a little sarcastic, sometimes threatening, and is not easily shaken. We have no idea who he works for and why he has so much power and access to important people in very high places.

As the various pieces of the giant robot are found and assembled, no one has specifically addressed the purpose of said alien device and the meaning of it for humanity. Who left it? When exactly were the pieces buried? Why was it left? What is its purpose?

The characters are basically well developed, considering the format used to tell the narrative. The interview technique doesn't allow for minutia or many of the little details that make a character more real to the reader and allow a personal connection. They are an interesting collection of people, though, and that helps. The interview/journal entry technique certainly made the pacing of the novel move along swiftly and ultimately, although not perfect, it did work on many levels.

The ending makes abundantly clear that apparently this is the first in a series of novels and there will be at least a second novel, if not more.
A firm 4.5 stars, but I just can't make myself round up here. Perhaps the sequel will change that.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of
Random House for review purposes.

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