Review | Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

4/5 stars.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel UK book cover

Thank you to Penguin UK and NetGalley for giving me a e-copy of this book in return for an honest review.

The blurb: 17 years ago, a young girl named Rose fell through the ground in the Black Hills and found herself in an underground chamber filled with gleaming symbols, lying in the palm of a giant metal hand. Now a physicist, Rose leads a research team struggling to determine the hand’s origins. When another giant limb is discovered, she quickly devises a method for unearthing the hidden pieces, convinced there is an entire body out there waiting to be found.

Halfway around the globe, Kara watches helplessly as her helicopter shuts down over a pistachio field in Turkey. That’ll leave a mark, but she’s about to crash her way into what might be the greatest endeavor in human history.

This is a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts. Written as a series of interview transcripts, journal entries and mission logs, The Themis Files tells the tale of a handful of people whose lives are inexorably linked by the discovery of an alien device and the commotion that follows.

My take:

I enjoyed Sleeping Giants very much. It gets going quickly and grips you from the start. As soon as eleven-year old Rose falls into a hole and is recovered sitting on a giant hand, I knew this was going to be good. Oh, and did I mention that the giant hand is glowing despite not having any obvious power source and is soon determined to be impossibly old and not man-made? If that intrigues you, then read this book!

The story follows the search for the rest of the parts of the buried “giant” and is related through interview transcripts, journal entries and a couple of phone conversations. I have to give the author credit for how clearly the characters’ distinct personalities come across without ever having a narrator describe them or give us access to their thoughts.

However, I think recounting the story in this way was also a weakness. Too often we get to hear about everything that’s happened after the fact, missing out on experiencing events in “real time”. I can’t help but compare Sleeping Giants to Illuminae (Illuminae Files #1), which is also sci-fi and uses similar methods to tell its story. But I gave Illuminae 5-stars because it brings us closer to its characters and events by using a greater variety of formats.

Would you enjoy this book if you don’t usually read sci-fi? I think you might. I say this because I found the whole “alien overlords” aspect of the story less interesting than the international political wrangling caused by the uncovering of the giant. That such a discovery could lead to the threat of a new arms race and World War III was believable and grounded the story in some much-needed reality.

Overall: if you like sci-fi and don’t think you’d be put off by the way the story is told, I urge you to read this book. And if you usually steer clear of sci-fi, I encourage you to give it a try.

Claire Huston / Art and Soul



10 thoughts on “Review | Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

    • Thank you! I’m glad it wasn’t just me. For example, when someone dies in the middle, I just thought, “Oh, shame,” and carried on!!
      Someone else mentioned the movie. I think it could be good. The book is practically a script already 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yep. I think because everything was related after it had already happened there was a complete disconnect. Maybe that’s the difference between it and Illuminae. Even though Illuminae used a similar format, you were right there with the characters. Oh dear. I hope I’m not rambling. Anyway, I think in the right hands this may be a rare case of the movie being better than the book.

        Liked by 1 person

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