In Sleeping Giants, a large, metal object shaped like a gigantic hand is found in South Dakota. It glows with its own light and scientists have no idea what it is made of or what it can do. And so, the mystery and adventure begins.
I enjoyed the story a lot but not how it was written. Neuvel tells Sleeping Giants through a series of “case files” or question and answer sessions between the main characters and a mysterious, all-powerful figure who is manipulating the scenario from behind the scenes. This method of storytelling seemed especially ridiculous during some of the action scenes, when Neuvel had the characters talking to each other on the phone, describing what was happening to them as it occurred. But, otherwise, the Q & A setup gave readers a behind the scenes look at what was going on in the character’s minds and allowed for a lot of personality development. I wish that Neuvel had switched back and forth between traditional storytelling and the “case file” thing, so that he could both tell the story and have the in-depth character portions. Maybe he could do something like that in the next book.
I was nervous that Sleeping Giants was going to be more science fiction than fantasy, but it wasn’t. There are only a few mind-boggling moments when the scientists are trying to figure out mathematics with a base of 8 rather than a base of 10. Mostly, The Sleeping Giants asks the questions: what would happen to humanity if something very strange and not of our civilization was discovered on earth? What would that mean for world politics? And how, on an individual level, would everyone involved handle it?
Kara Resnik, a pilot, was my favorite character in this story. She’s impulsive, passionate, and honest. In this passage, she’s talking about the possibility of leaving the project before it’s completed: What would I do anyway? Go about my business as if nothing ever happened? I couldn’t even talk about it to anyone. This is gonna sound incredibly selfish, but I’d get bored to death unless someone started World War III or something. Who could go from this to carrying crates from base to base? And I need to know. I mean, how could anyone start something like this and not know how it turns out? I’d lose my mind.” pg 54
The moral dilemma for the scientists involved in the project is interesting. In this passage, lead scientist Rose Franklin talks about the fact that the technology could be used for good or ill, depending on who controls it and how that makes her complicit in their actions, because she’s the one figuring out how it works: “What I’ve been trying so hard to deny is that I’m loving every minute of it. As much as I’d like to be principled enough to walk away from this, I’m having the time of my life. I’m a scientist, and this is what I breathe for. If I had learn to live with that, I might be able to sleep again.” pg 167
If you enjoyed Sleeping Giants, you may want to pick up The Many Selves of Katherine North by Emma Geen (in which, advanced technology raises moral questions) or The Interminables by Paige Orwen (in a dystopian world, humanity tries to save itself from inter-dimensional creatures, but maybe some solutions aren’t worth the cost).
Big thanks to the Goodreads First Reads Program for a free copy of this book. And, thank you for reading!