It was my eleventh birthday.
– Opening sentence
I have always been a fan of science-fiction, so when I heard about Sleeping Giants I instantly knew it would be something I’d like.
I mean, a story about giant robots? It reminded of The Iron Giant, one of my favourite childhood stories, and after I saw the BEAUTIFUL cover art I was sold (literally – I bought a special-edition signed copy from Goldsboro Books the next day).
And what can I say? The beginning of the story is science-fiction at its best; a young girl falling into the giant, metal hand of a dismembered robotic hand.
How effing cool is that?
Years later, that same young girl becomes the lead scientist of a project to uncover the mysteries behind this bizarre find, uncovering more alien artifacts until they piece together an ancient, all-powerful alien robot.
But where did it come from? Why was it abandoned, buried on Earth? These are the questions Rose, and indeed the rest of the world, must answer if they want to understand their past (and their future!).
The story itself is told through a variety of files and interviews conducted by an anonymous and mysterious government/CIA-type individual, who pieces together the many elements of the story on the reader’s behalf. It’s an unorthodox style – if you’ve read World War Z you’ll know it – but Neuvel makes it work well.
It’s actually a testament to Neuvel’s writing skills (especially as a debut author), that this unconventional writing style does not hinder the story at all. Neuvel’s characters are both strong and relatable, and I found myself growing strong attachments to all of them (even the ‘bad’ guys!).
Sleeping Giants isn’t an action-packed, apocalyptic, science-fiction spectacle – it’s a clever, subtle novel with themes of politics, existentialism, love, power and jealousy. But it’s very subtle – Neuvel doesn’t ram these themes down you’re throat as you’re reading. Rather, they’re weaved into the fabric of the story effortlessly, creating a far more realistic and grounded story, and – in my opinion – a more enjoyable one.
When released, I already knew Sleeping Giants was the first in a series called The Themis Files. Because of this, I knew that all the questions presented were not going to be answered in this volume, and that somewhat diluted the experience for me. However, it also meant that Neuvel could take his time to build a story and world without restriction, and i think he succeeded in creating a ‘foundation’ book that is also self-encompassing.
Seriously, for a debut novel, Sleeping Giants is brilliant, and an instant cult-classic. It hints at some seriously interesting stuff for the rest of the series, and I can’t wait for the next installment.
If I had one criticism, it would have to be the ending. Neuvel ends on a cliffhanger, leaving the reader with a hundred burning questions right at the end when they least expected it.
If I’m being honest, I’m not a fan of cliffhangers. I feel like they’re a cheap way to entice you to buy the second book (which, obviously, is exactly what they are designed for). In my opinion, any good, well-written book shouldn’t need to rely on cliffhangers.
And that’s the most annoying part. Sleeping Giants is GOOD. Sylvain Neuvel is GOOD. It doesn’t need a cliffhanger ending, people who love it will want to read the rest of the series regardless!
Speaking of which, Waking Gods is due for release in 2017, and I will be waiting eagerly to get my hands on a copy!
(5 / 5)
Please come with me, there is much we need to discuss…
– Final sentence
P.S. There are already plans to turn Sleeping Giants into a film. I initially remain hesitant, as I always am when books I love are made into films – Will they get it right? Will it fail? Will it be as I imagined? I guess all I can do is wait and see…(watch this space!)