Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

wp-image--294077539.Pages: 376

Publisher: Penguin Fiction

Rating: 4 Stars

Synopsis: A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.

Seventeen years later, the mystery of the bizarre artifact remains unsolved—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

But some can never stop searching for answers.

Rose Franklin is now a highly trained physicist leading a top secret team to crack the hand’s code. And along with her colleagues, she is being interviewed by a nameless interrogator whose power and purview are as enigmatic as the provenance of the relic. What’s clear is that Rose and her compatriots are on the edge of unraveling history’s most perplexing discovery—and figuring out what it portends for humanity. But once the pieces of the puzzle are in place, will the result prove to be an instrument of lasting peace or a weapon of mass destruction?

The first thing you notice when you flip through Sleeping Giants is that it’s written in a series of interviews, files and personal diary entries. It felt like I was reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, which I loved. It makes it easier to make the decision between closing the book and reading one more chapter ( by constantly making you curious about the next chapter, so you choose to flip the page. )

On the cover of my edition it says that it’s ‘this year’s The Martian’ which is completely inaccurate. The only thing they have in common, is that they’re both science fiction (and just because some complicated scientific terms are used, doesn’t mean a book is automatically similar to The Martian, people ) There is a fair amount of science, but it is explained and doesn’t sound like chinese, if that sounds daunting to you. Some of it isn’t even vital to the story. It’s more like details to explain things away, or how something works. So if the comparison to The Martian daunts you, know that you can entirely skip what you don’t understand, if you’re okay with a more general idea of the ‘why’ and ‘how’.

So up until page 150, I thought it was fine, nothing terribly enticing about it. The best part was the general idea itself. Yes, you’re curious what exactly it looks like, but you’re more curious why it ( the hand & co. ) looks that way and what it can do, but you can’t rush, you get to find out later, and throughout the book.


Here’s what I liked about this book:

The science itself, because I’m definitely a nerd for things like that, even if they can get mind-twisting. Especially when they get mind-twisting.

Somehow, the physics of the whole thing makes it stand out. You cannot ignore such a discovery. I don’t know if you know about this, but a while ago some sort of tiny computer was excavated. It’s not terribly advanced, but it’s WAY more advanced than we thought technology was at the time that carbon dating placed it in. Well, it’s like that. Except imagine that an apple iPhone 1 million years old was found. Yeah. Back to the book at hand. What’s great about it, is that it’s real. The writer covered every possible global consequence of such a discovery, and did not overlook what would really happen if it was made today; The attempts to cover it up, realization that it cannot be hidden then how it is announced, the greed of every country, the race towards claiming it, the territorial disputes and scientific debates, gigantic costs in money and time and the endless procedures to do anything concrete.

It might sound boring, but I promise, there’s a healthy amount of shocks almost at every chapter, and you will keep trying to guess who in the heck is the interviewer, because his identity is at times more important than anything else. He seems to be a shady, professional type of person. One you might think would belong to Illuminati (and the book was written like Illuminae… ) *takes off the conspiracy theorist’s hat* because of his tremendous power and influence. I found myself wearing quite a lot of frowns while reading this book (in suspicion, not dislike).

Pretty early in the book I got to have a favorite character, her name is Kara ( Which is the same name as the protagonist of an old game I used to play back in the days when point-and-click flash games were a trend. She’s a WWI spy for the Allies. But that’s not the point) and she. Is. Awesome. She’s headstrong, brave and intelligent. Very stubborn too. But she’s also human and flawed like we all are. She gets self-conscious, reserved, doubts herself a fair amount, hates some of her choices and characteristics, but she is not a quitter. Remember Rain from Resident Evil ? Kara reminded me of her. A lot.

The ending. HUGE cliff-hanger, and plot twist at the same time. Prepare to be terribly confused, because I certainly reread the last pages at least 4 times. DEFINITELY going to pick up the rest of the series.


I rated it 4 stars because, while I was crazy about the ending and its twists, I felt like it went a bit slower than I wanted, and that I would have taken longer to read if I wasn’t in a readathon the day I picked it up. After I finished the book, the thing that stayed with me was the ending, mostly. In terms of the whole book, or how much the 5-starness covered in it, I’d say I wouldn’t jump up and down fangirling about it.

There isn’t something terribly wrong with it. It was some ‘meh’ and some ‘OMGGG’. Something I would have liked to see would be (spoiler alert, highlight if you want to read) When the forearm emerged and destroyed a village, someone would talk. The news and rumors would spread. Anyone living in that village would know right away that the press’ explanations were too unbelievable. People aren’t that stupid. I know it was mentioned that the press didn’t do a great job of covering it up, and that the doubts of a small group of people doesn’t matter, because we’re talking global-sized consequences. But if you’re gonna cover the personal life of the characters when you don’t really need to, you could go the extra mile and cover how the forearm caused a disaster that wrecked lives, even if those lives are of side characters.

I don’t feel terribly bad about this part; it didn’t need to happen, but it missed an opportunity to make me like the book a bit more.

Conclusion: All in all, I enjoyed reading this book despite a few misses. And I would recommend it if you like discoveries that shake everything you know about history, The 5th Wave, solid science fiction, paradoxes, getting shocked at the end of chapters, cliffhangers at the very last page. I also intend to pick up the sequel.

  • Have you read this book ?
  • Do you agree with my opinions about it? Think of something I didn’t cover ?
  • What is your favorite science fiction read ? Any recommendations of the same genre/style ?

I’ll be waiting for your thoughts in the comments !

6 thoughts on “Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Add yours

  1. Good review! I’ve seen quite a few book bloggers pick this up recently and it’s made me curious, so I might check it out. x


  2. Idk, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I feel like some of it is more reasons why it doesn’t work? I DNF’D the audiobook today (not in the mood for it, will pick it back up at some point) and I can’t imagine reading it as a book. I don’t think I would interpret the same emotions as in the audiobook esp since there’s no description. The scientific bits made the 3/4ths that I read feel like a huge info dump and it’s not as interesting as I thought it would be. You’re 100% right about the realism of the discovery in a global context tho. Really well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m a nerd, I know 😂 I was probably too interested to see that the information was an infodump, but I remember thinking ‘when’s the actual action though?’
      and yeah! The transition from audiobook to text needs some serious attachment to every part of the book so it wouldn’t be a bother. From text to audio it’s enriching, but the reverse, is, well, hard to go with 😂 something I’ve been wondering about is how do they turn graphic novels to audiobooks ? Or at least books with a lot of illustrations. Won’t it be so much less rich of a reading experience ?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes exactly! There just wasn’t a good balance between exposition and plot.
        I’ve wondered the same thing. I might go through my library catalog and see if I can find an audiobook for a graphic novel. I always imagined it would just be like reading from a script, but that feels like it would remove all context of the illustrations.

        Liked by 1 person

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