Sleeping Giants is the beginning of a creative sci-fi trilogy
Sleeping Giants #1 by Sylvain Neuvel
Genre: Sci Fi
Published 2016, 320 pages
"It was one of the firemen that had gotten me out of the hole. He’d taken some pictures and thought I’d like to see them. He was right. There I was, this tiny little thing at the bottom of the hole, lying on my back in the palm of a giant metal hand."
The premise of this novel/trilogy is great! A little girl (Rose) falls into a hole and when she's rescued, everyone can see that she landed in a large metal hand. Rose then grows up to become a scientist in charge of investigating the origins of the hand and the strange symbols surrounding it.
The book is written in interviews, interrogations, reports, and letters, which is a perfect format for a book about science and investigating the unknown. Once the hand is dug up and tested, Rose determines that the metal alloy is not anything from Earth and postulates that it is part of a "body" - a giant alien robot that's been here thousands of years.
Headed up by a powerful, secretive man (we never learn a name or background of this key player) who directs most of the interrogations, the small group of specialists bring their skills to trying to solve the mystery of the hand. As the team starts looking for more body parts, we also learn more about each of them through the interviews. When body parts are found buried around the world, there's even some politics involved as the US based team tries to beg/borrow/steal the huge parts.
Like The Martian, there's enough science to make it believable, but not so much to scare off the casual reader. That's perfect for me (though that's the only similarity). There's also some thoughtful philosophical musings here and there as the project continues and Rose sees it moving toward becoming weaponized. (Why does EVERY invention have to become weaponized????)
"So, what’s that simple truth I’ve been hiding from? It’s not that I’m building a weapon. It’s not even that it’ll kill people. That’s just a matter of time. What I’ve been trying so hard to deny is that I’m loving every minute of it. As much as I’d like to be principled enough to walk away from this, I’m having the time of my life. I’m a scientist, and this is what I breathe for. If I can learn to live with that, I might be able to sleep again."
All in all I found this book engrossing and creative. I liked the way the interviews and reports revealed the characters' personalities layer by layer. I liked the interactions of the characters - a little sexual attraction, a little hero worship, etc. - and was surprised by the depth that could be developed for the characters through this unusual format.
I think this could be a good entry to sci-fi reading if you're not already a big nerdy fan. The novelty of presentation with the interviews/reports keeps you engaged, and the characters move the story forward. It's a strong book.