book reviews by Althea

Sleeping Giants – Sylvain Neuvel ****

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Sleeping Giants
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

‘Mecha’ ( meets ‘World War Z.’
The ‘World War Z’ comparison (which this book has been getting a lot) is largely due to the format: the story is told through a series of interviews. However, where the WWZ interviews were all separate, in ‘The Sleeping Giant’ the main characters are questioned repeatedly, allowing us to get to know them. Most of the debriefings are conducted by a shadowy figure of power whose identity is unclear throughout most of the book.

The strangeness starts when a young girl falls into a sinkhole and accidentally discovers a giant hand. Initially it’s assumed that it’s some kind of ancient sculpture, but it turns out the artifact is made of no material known on Earth. By coincidence (?), the young girls grows up to be a scientific researcher and devotes herself to the mystery. It’s not too much of a spoiler, given the book’s title, that the hand is only part of what seems to be some kind of giant, humanoid robot. The goal is to find the other ‘pieces’ and try to find out how it works and what it might be for. If it’s some kind of alien weaponry, the power that controls it may very well control the world.

A team is assembled – in addition to the star scientist, it includes a tough-talking ace pilot, a brilliant nerd with poor people skills, and an all-American soldier boy. Each might be uniquely qualified- but they’ve all got issues which makes their working together difficult at best and wholly disastrous at worst.

I must divulge upfront that I’ve never been a huge fan of Transformers, Gundam, or any other Giant Robot Battle stories. (I do love ‘District 9’ though, which does feature a robot battle suit…) But although I may not be the exact target audience for this book, I did very much enjoy it. The writing maintained the sense of tension and interest very well, with each section leaving me eager to find out what would happen next.

Many thanks to Del Rey and NetGalley for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinion is solely my own.

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