Originally posted 2016-04-12 12:00:11.
Title: Sleeping Giants
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Published: Del Rey Books (26 April 2016)
Genre: Science Fiction Thriller
Series: Themis Files #1
Kid Friendly Rating: PG13 – some sexual references.
A young girl falls through a hole in the ground and lands in a giant metal hand. She grows up to become a scientist intent on finding out more about the giant hand and what it all means. The story is told through interview transcripts, media reports and journal entries.
The premise of the story is fascinating, the plot interesting and the story progresses at a good pace. However, in the main the format and style did not work for me. Dialogue in the interview transcripts is often wooden and clichéd (particularly at the beginning of the book) and characters are poorly drawn. This is mainly because we are told about the personalities of each character rather than allowed to find out for ourselves through the story (and I think this is down to the format). Moreover, the main female character is largely a stereotype – tough military pilot, amazing flying skills (the best there is), but emotional baggage, trust issues, a tendency to fall in love with the wrong man etc. Everyone in the book is overly interested in her love life (the ins and outs of which dominate many of the interview transcripts) and this all seems rather incongruous given the importance (potentially world-changing) nature of the work they are doing. I just wanted them all to get a grip and focus on the serious stuff! Two of men in the book are of course completely head over heels in love with her.
However, despite all of the above I actually ended up enjoying the book! To be fair this was largely down to the way the main character is drawn – the senior, unnamed, enigmatic official who conducts the interviews in the book. While in the beginning I was irritated by his obvious “plot point” questions, clearly there in order to fill us in on what was happening, by the end I was utterly fascinated by him. Somehow along the way, as the story progresses, so his personality and character starts to emerge, his questions and observations start to amuse and I certainly became increasingly intrigued by his seeming omniscience and masterful handling of difficult events. This character works and helps raise this book a notch. And in fairness the book ends on a strong note while leaving a number of plot points dangling in readiness for the next book in the series.
The book got under my skin in a way I could never have imagined when I started reading it. Wooden dialogue and stereotypical characters aside, this is a book that kept me reading. This wasn’t because of the plot (although that’s interesting enough) and not because of most of the characters (although despite myself I quite liked the main female character by the end). What worked for me and what would make me read the other books in the series was the interviewer himself, the mastermind behind the scenes. I want to know who he really is, how he came to be doing what he’s doing and what else he has planned. If the next book gives me that, then yes this is a series I may keep reading. But I would hope for less love life navel gazing on the part of the greatest female pilot the world has ever known.
Will you read this book? Give us your thoughts!