by Sylvain Neuvel (April 2016)
Rose is riding her new bike in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings, in the palm of a giant metal hand.
Seventeen years later, the bizarre artifact remains a mystery-its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected. But some can never stop searching for answers.
Whether you love Sleeping Giants or not will come down to how much you enjoy your science fiction filtered through interviews and written artifacts. The interview format makes for a lightning-fast read. The narrative skips from highlight to highlight, allowing a lot of story time to pass quickly. As parts of an alien robot are discovered, assembled and studied, the interviews are used as a Cliff Notes overview of significant events. The style leaves out tedious details and keeps the action moving without too much exposition.
The interview format also creates an emotional distance that keeps Sleeping Giants from being engaging. Every suspenseful moment is diluted by after-the-fact descriptions. Emotions are described (in analytic detail), not experienced. Heard only through their answers, which are often evasive or angry, characters are unsympathetic. The interviews cover complicated relationships between the investigative team, causing some sections to feel like melodramatic accounts of inter-office drama.
Sleeping Giants‘ interview format is both its strength and its weakness, and is likely to provoke polarizing extremes in its readers.
I received an advance copy of Sleeping Giants from the publisher for review.
* Experimental format: through interviews
* Intriguing alien artifacts
* Interpersonal drama among science and military personnel