Introvert Rose Franklin just escaped the party for her eleventh birthday and can finally try out the new bike she got from her father when she spots an eerie turquoise glow beside her path. When she gets off her bike to take a closer look at the light the ground beneath her feet suddenly gives in, causing Rose to fall several meters into the earth and pass out. Waking up again she finds herself in giant hole with some odd glowing carvings in the wall – but the most bizarre thing is yet to come: Getting rescued by firemen and being pulled out of that hole she takes a look back to where she came from and discovers that she had landed in the palm of a giant metal hand…
17 years later Rose is a scientist at the University of Chicago and gets in contact with the odd artefact a second time when the NSA takes an interest in the giant hand and asks Rose to try what the US military couldn’t succeed in for all these past years: to solve the mystery of the artefact and find an explanation for its origin and purpose. And unlike the army Rose needs only a few months to make progress with her research – and her discovery is mind-blowing…
Ancient artefacts or proof for extraterrestrial life?
To be honest I’m having very mixed feelings about Sylvain Neuvel’s science fiction novel „Sleeping Giants“. I absolutely loved the first third of the book because the premise was so fucking amazing and the format made it even more appealing to me because I love it when stories are told this way but somehow this book lost me somewhere in the middle part.
Giant robots and dossier style? Count me in!
The more I read the more distant this book became for me because on the one hand I couldn’t really relate to the characters but mainly because I think that all the great advantages this unusual format offers weren’t made use of. I know it’s a bit unfair to compare SLEEPING GIANTS to the fucking perfect ILLUMINAE but while Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman succeeded at making me feel like I was actually part of the story and right on board of those spaceships and fighting next to the characters‘ sides I just felt reduced to being an observer in this story because you’re never there when the action happens since you only learn about all the events and developments through the interviews that take place quite a while AFTER them so that all the emotions had enough time to calm down again. Therefore in my opinion this book failed at building up real and nerve-wracking suspense because it always felt like you’re not heading towards a climax but that the climax is already past you when you read about it.
Hey, doesn’t anybody wonder where the artefacts came from?
Also the author simply didn’t raise enough questions in the second half of the book that would keep me hooked to the story. I was so excited about the giant robot parts and wanted to know EVERYTHING about their origin in the beginning but when the first excitement ceased there just wasn’t enough input for me to keep the flame burning because almost all of the second half is occupied with political or personal affairs but no one actually seems to care about the explanation for the robot parts. I don’t care which country claims ownership or which characters share a bed, I just wanted to get to know everything about the artifacts and Sylvain Neuvel continued to offer very little information about this which led to some big frustration on my part.
I want more science!
I’m glad that there will be a sequel though because for a standalone the ending would have been a big disappointment and to be honest it’s mostly the surprising epilogue which makes me curious about the next book. I just hope that the next installment of the Thesis Files will go back to the roots and pay more attention to the robots itself. PLEASE GIVE ME MORE SCIENCE, I want to get my mind blown away with explanations that have me thinking about nothing less than the universe itself and I don’t care if it’s the Americans, the Russians or the Koreans who make that happen… JUST DO IT. And please bring more variety to the dossier format because I think it would work way better if it was not just 95% interviews that take place in a sterile environment but some other pieces of information that would provide more live-action that allows you to actually FEEL the story and not just TELLS you what happened.
Entertaining but not mind-blowing
SLEEPING GIANTS is still a good and entertaining novel and even though I didn’t find the second half very exciting I was never actually bored because the almost dialogue-only narrative style still provides a good pace but I just can’t help feeling that with this great premise this book could have been SO MUCH MORE exciting. I was hoping for something mind-blowing and thought-provoking but in the end it was more like the literary equivalent to a popcorn movie: I felt well entertained but so far I don’t think that this story will stick in my mind very long. I’m having almost a bad conscience for not being as enthusiastic about this as I had hoped for and as I had expected after the intriguing beginning but maybe my expectations were just a bit too high.
Conclusion:Giant robotic artefacts that were buried on earth for several thousand years – Sylvain Neuvel's novel "Sleeping Giants" comes with an exciting premise and has the potential for a mind-blowing SciFi adventure, but due to a not properly executed dossier format and too little scientific background falls a bit short of expectations even though it's still a fast-paced and entertaining story.
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