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Sleeping Giants

Sylvain Neuvel
In Print
Del Rey (2016)

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This entry created 10 October 2020. Last revised on 10 October 2020.

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Sleeping Giants

Book One of the Themis Files

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star no star no star no star (7.00)

309 pages. Acknowledgments, author's biography, and typeface note.

This novel takes the form of documents, mostly diary entries and interview notes, chronicling a secret project to decipher the mystery of an ancient relic – a giant hand.

Rose Franklin was the child who literally fell into the giant hand, which the experts dismissed as Ancient American sculpture. Now, 17 years later, she's Dr. Franklin, leading the research team investigating the properties of the hand, and the meaning of the writing preserved with it.

She is eventually joined by a team: Kara, the loner helicopter pilot; Ryan, the helicopter co-pilot who loves her; Vincent, a brilliant Canadian linguist; and Alyssa, an egotistical geneticist.

And behind everything is the person conducting the interviews, the nameless figure who controls the project without having a title, who seems to know everything about everyone…

As is quickly revealed, the hand is only one part of a giant robot whose parts are scattered across the globe. At what cost will all of the components be acquired? Who can be trusted with the power of a machine from the stars?

The novel starts as a fun romp around the globe as mysteries are solved, then turns serious as innocents die and team members turn against one another. What price must be paid to assemble and master the giant robot?

The author nicely has laid out the plot so that, just when you think you know where the book is going, there's a twist that adds complexity to the situation. However, the characters tend to be two-dimensional (though with lots of angst).

Note that characters express views about politics and nations, often cynical, that might offend some people. Not everyone will like the ending. There's also some sexuality (not graphic), so not for children.

Can you game it? There are several points when nations come into conflict over relics, on land and sea, that might be gamed (but the umpire would need to know special restrictions). The robot, however, is too overpowered to be interesting on the tabletop against human opponents.

I enjoyed it, mostly. Fun read, but it tries to make you think. Recommended.

Reviewed by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.