Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Published by Random House Publishing Group on April 26th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction
Buy on Amazon
A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected. But some can never stop searching for answers. Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?
You have to understand that this flies in the face of everything we know about American civilizations.
Sleeping Giants is being compared to the bestseller and now successful Matt Damon film – The Martian – which is misleading, if not entirely inaccurate.
The two books’ stories, narrative styles, characters and overall tones are actually very different. Almost all the details about this book do not resemble The Martian at all. However, they do share a key similarity.
For me, The Martian is not a great book because of the humour, detailed science, or its focus on survival against the odds – it’s a great book because it makes you feel tiny. It’s a breathtakingly extraordinary concept that we are forced to imagine: being stranded hundreds of thousands of miles away from anyone else. Trapped on a distant planet where pretty much everything can kill you. Putting myself in Mark Watney’s shoes was overwhelming, feeling all alone in the vast expanse of space. Having no clue how this situation could possibly end in survival.
Sleeping Giants gave me a similar feeling. A feeling of wide-eyed wonder at the suggestion of this possibility: the discovery of giant metal body parts deep underground; giant body parts that predate the human technology necessary to create them. The implication being – if humans couldn’t possibly have made this giant, who did?
The story is told through a series of interviews with a nameless interviewer, as well as the occasional journal entry and news article. Unlike The Martian, this isn’t propelled by a single character’s humourous narrative, but instead allows us a look at all the people involved in this project – in uncovering the body parts, finding out how they work, what it all means, and trying to keep their sanity as the world becomes more and more insane.
What I am is very much a function of what I am not. If the “other” is the Muslim world, then I am the Judeo-Christian world. If the other is from thousands of light-years away, I am simply human. Redefine alterity and you can erase boundaries.
We see how this discovery and the subsequent revelations affect the world. Imagine what this means for humanity. It is the suggestion that we are not alone and are not the most advanced creatures in the universe. What were these giant body parts created for? Are they a message or a weapon? What does this mean for religions? Is someone out there waiting for us?
It is perhaps not as “warm” a sci-fi novel as The Martian. It feels darker, more frightening, giving us less reason to believe the author owes us a happy ending. The ending is haunting and unexpected, paving the way for a sequel that should be equally thought-provoking. I, for one, really want to know what happens next.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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