Or more accurately titled, “When I fell off the CBR wagon”. When I posted my last review, I was behind where I had hoped to be in June but hopeful for being able to successfully complete my half cannonball. Then I stopped reviewing what I had read and shortly thereafter stopped reading anything else out of guilt for the review backlog. I’m sure other Cannonballers have been here before. So, here I am trying to get back on track and vainly recall details of books read months ago 🙂
“Sleeping Giants” is a debut novel from Sylvain Neuvel. In late Spring, I was at my local independent bookstore to pick up a different book and get my pre-selected subscription book club monthly choice, “Sleeping Giants”.
“So what is the speculative fiction pick this month?”, I asked.
“Oh, it’s this great book, Sleeping Giants! (insert well known authors names that I can’t remember now) have been raving about it. We upped our usual order and 3/4 of it are already gone,” was the reply. “It’s a little different as the entire book takes place in interviews. For some people that’s a turn off but for people who get into it, they really like the book.” Consider my interest piqued.
“Sleeping Giants” is a story of a discovery in the near future that upsets world order and, yes, it is told almost exclusively through interviews with the occasional audio diary transcription and news articles. Every chapter has a heading of file number, interview/mission log with the person’s name (rank/title as appropriate), and location of the interview. All of which is important information for deciphering what is happening in the story. The “cast of characters” changes over the course of the book, as the story is told from multiple sides and the passage of time. The one bit of information you are never given is the name of the person conducting these interviews, a faceless entity who, interestingly, is the thread of continuity for the story.
The events that have been recorded in these files cover years and there can be significant time gaps between files (chapters). We learn everything second hand. As the story evolves, the reader watches on, sometimes in horror, as you learn what has already happened for the characters.
The book begins with a prologue telling how an 11 year old girl falls into a hole in the ground. When she is found, it is discovered that she is on the palm of a giant robotic hand. The hand is housed in a square hole, the walls of which are covered in strange glowing carvings and the military takes control of it. 17 years later nothing has been done with the discovery until the girl, now scientist Dr. Rose Franklin, reconnects with the hand and joins the project.
Sure, all sorts of measurements had been taken. The chemical composition, size and weight, and theoretical age were known, with troubling results. As well as the fact, that it had to be extra-terrestrial in origin. How it got underground, what was it’s use, and what do the glyphs mean were all mysteries and currently only the United States knows of it’s existence. Dr. Franklin approaches the hand with the question, why was it discovered when it was. Another robotic body part is found, giving credence to Dr. Franklin’s hypothesis of how the first piece was unearthed. An experiment leads to more discoveries and the course of human events becomes forever altered.
It took a little bit to settle into the book and I didn’t catch on right away the importance of the chapter headings. Once I did, the book clipped along at a nice pace and I greatly enjoyed the story. Like many a good sci-fi book before it, there is wonderful social commentary on knowledge, power, secrets and what happens when those three things come together.