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