Title: Sleeping Giants
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Rating: 3.5 Stars
I’ve been eyeing this book for the past year or so, wanting to pick it up one day and then not wanting to the next. I finally decided to give it a shot and it did not disappoint. I’ve already reviewed this on my GoodReads page. I have one more pre-written review from last month, but I have decided on a format, so after the next review they’ll be a little more uniform. But back to this book. P.S. you may be treading into spoiler territory.
Sleeping Giants is a pretty good introduction to a promising series. I listened to this on audio book and I blew through it in less than a day. I don’t want to say anything about the pacing because while listening to it I felt like things were moving very quickly but by the end I realized that everything had happened in a span of about 2-3 years (not including what happened in the epilogue which took place 4 years after the start of the book). This was part of the reason that I was originally going to rate this a three star, as well as the fact that there isn’t much intense action throughout the first half of the book. This is definitely a back heavy book whose plot is mostly used to set up what’s to come in the next installment. However, I gave it an additional half star because the last third of the book made up for the beginning.
The audio book is a full cast recording which really lends to establishing the characters personalities. There are about four characters that are prominent and returning throughout the novel, while there are many that are only around for one or a few files and not heard from again. Despite this, all of the characters are adding something of importance to the story. The main characters are diverse in personality and motive. Some are lovely, while some are made to be extremely unlikable. I thought the development Alyssa’s character was a bit strange. She went from kind of bland and unassuming to a diabolical mad scientist who may or may not be implicated in some crazy human experiments with not a lot of clues being dropped within the story between her introduction and the end that hinted at her true personality. She definitely seemed snubbed when she was fired from the first project, but after everything that happened with Rose it was like she became a completely different character. Alyssa was one of the elements in this book that, while I understand why they happened, I wish had been handled differently. Another one of these elements was the half-hearted semi-love triangle. It felt like a convenient way to drive the plot forward and it seemed like it was going to be used to create tension between three characters but it was never really fully developed enough to feel genuine. Kara seemed to jump from Ryan to Vincent without any real motivation. I honestly don’t understand what the point of Ryan’s character was in the book. You could lift his character from the story and with some tweaks it would still flow the same. Vincent could still be involved in a different accident, Kara still could have made it out of the compound at the end. The situation between Kara, Ryan, and Vincent was such a plot device it felt like a recipe for a huge eye roll. Towards the end it felt like a device to create a relationship rift and distance between Kara and Vincent.
The only other part of the book I didn’t really believe was the intensity of the relationships between some of the characters. I think part of this is because the whole story is told in a found files/interview-after-the-fact format so a lot of the descriptions of the relationships were clipped. Again, the relationship between Kara and Ryan was strained at best, between her and Vincent it was a little more believable because more time was spent developing their relationship. Rose’s character was very “big sister” reminiscent, which wasn’t a bad thing. She’s the kind of person who can get along with anyone, which made her friendships with both Kara and Vincent feel real as they both were introduced as relatively self-isolating people.
Despite my complaints about the few things I didn’t like in the book, in general, those things did not take away from the interesting plot line and I am excited to see where this story goes. It hints at the idea that the technology recovered in this book was left by aliens waiting for us to get smart enough to discover it. So now that we’ve discovered it, what happens next? There were a few subtle mentions of the implications that the discovery of other, more advanced life in the universe could have on us and I’m hoping that these concepts are explored more in the next book.