Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

“Generally speaking, people tend not to question what they’ve been told was true. Scientists are no different; they’ve just been told a lot more things.”

― Sylvain Neuvel, Sleeping Giants

Source: Bolinda Audio Book

My Rating: 4 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

This book is really interesting.

It begins with an interview with a scientist, Rose Franklin, who relates her childhood memory of stumbling into a pit containing a giant robot hand engraved with an alien script.

As if through an act of fate, the adult Rose who is now a physicist, is assigned to study the hand. She figures out that it is in fact a part of a gigantic female robot that could only have been put on earth by extraterrestrials. She, with the help of a shady ‘Agent Smith’-like interviewer (who remains nameless throughout the book), assembles a team to hunt down the rest of the robot and figure out how to use it. This team includes:

The pilots: Ryan and Kara, pilots with the US Army. Ryan a good guy who Vincent describes to have a personality that’s a little too ‘Captain America-ish’. Kara is described to be gorgeous, but is a self-acknowledged bad girl with issues. These two will be recruited to help find the pieces of the robot, and then to train to pilot the robot.

Linguist: Vincent who is somewhat of a polymath and a grumpy, bad-tempered guy.

The other scientist: Alyssa (guessing at spelling, since I listened to the audiobook) ‘insert long Greek name I can’t spell’, who is very curious about why only some people are able to pilot the robot and is apparently very intelligent.

The book proceeds in a series of interviews, personal audio diary entries and phonecalls, most of which involve ‘Agent Smith’, who begins to take on a questionable character of his own.

In the process of assembling the robot and learning how to use it, the team goes through tragedies, betrayals and unexpected revelations about where it may have come from and what its purpose is–is the robot the ultimate medicinal cure, a way to connect to other civilisations, or as the ultimate weapon. World peace is threatened and lives are lost.

What struck me is how well this method of storytelling works–Neuvel gets into each character’s head and the story unfolds rapidly, without us feeling too burdened by the infodumps about the robot. We also get a good look at each character’s perspective and how they view each other–they don’t pull punches in their judgemental, sneaky and downright unethical (but fascinating) viewpoints:

“People who owe me favors are called friends.”
― Sylvain Neuvel, Sleeping Giants

Another thing that kept my geeky self happy was how much this reminded me of the anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion, which is also about ppl piloting big, almost biological-like robots, as well as the smart science and math explanations–which is not to say that this book is going to be tough to understand, it’s just explained clearly and well 🙂

Note: This is a really good time to start reading the book, because the sequel, Waking Gods, will come out on April 4th, 2017, just under two weeks away–I found that out on Neuvel’s website: http://www.thethemisfiles.com/, which looks very cool and has a link to an interview with him 🙂 Also, if you can, do try to listen to the audiobook. It has a full cast and is a joy to listen to.

“It does not matter. You train your soldiers to kill using video games. They blow enough people up on their computer and it becomes easier for them to kill with a real weapon. Why do you think your government funds so many war and terrorism movies? Hollywood does your dirty work for you. Had 9/11 happened twenty years earlier, the country would have been in chaos, but people have seen enough bad things on their television screen to prepare them for just about anything. We do not really need to talk about government conspiracies.”
― Sylvain Neuvel, Sleeping Giants

 

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