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?
A Disembodied Hand
The novel starts off with an 11-year-old Rose taking her brand new bike for a test run but soon found herself exploring on foot off the beaten path. Then she fell in a hole to a giant metal hand thousands of years old where her father and the firemen found her. The story speeds up 17 years later when Rose grew up to be a physicist at the University of Chicago. As if the fate of hand (pun intended) was playing a cosmic joke, she’s then tasked to head up the group that will uncover all its secrets.
Parts of a Whole
Narrated in forms of interviews, Sleeping Giants tells the story about the discovery of a robot created for reasons yet to be determined. Rose Franklin believes it to be of alien origin because it’s constructed from a rare metal that can’t be found on Earth in abundance. She knew other parts of the giant robot’s body were buried somewhere. But finding the pieces isn’t going to be a walk in the park. They’d have to extend their search outside the United States which means they’d have to conduct their searches covertly and without triggering a war against other nations.
How Do You Work This Thing?
Once assembled, mobilizing it wasn’t easy either as it takes a lot of skills and the correct anatomy. Its legs can only be moved if the person in control can somehow break their kneecaps so they’re facing backward. The language barrier was also a problem. They needed someone with enough intelligence to decipher the codes. Then the helmets. The helmets are made specifically for people with the right genetics code so operating the thing is not as easy as training someone.
Weapon of Mass Destruction
The robot absorbs energy and vaporizes everything around it once engaged. It’s technologically advanced, years and years far ahead. Man’s infinite curiosity for the unknown will prove to be disastrous in this instance. Our uncanny ability to use, abuse, and misuse new technology has been predominantly on the side of catastrophe. So of course, they’d bungled this one, too.
There was a lot of ethical dilemmas that Neuvel tackled here. The unknown interviewer, who also happens to be the master puppeteer of this endeavor holds great power and influence which he exerted in every way possible. In a way, he reminded me of Nick Fury (sorry, been watching way too many Avengers movies lately). Anyway, Nick Fury straddles the line of good and evil. But he’s the perfect example of someone who’s a true believer in the adage, “the end justifies the means”. He will do everything in his power to preserve any weaponry discovered under SHIELDS – even manipulation. So Neuvel presents an interesting conundrum for the readers. In one way, such a technical and weaponry advancement could bring about stability. Its presence alone is a threat in itself that nations would think twice about antagonizing another. On the other hand, such unstudied, volatile power could potentially be catastrophic if misused.
The Short Of It All
I used to have this thing against Sci-Fi. Lately, though, I’ve been finding myself drawn to this genre for some odd reason. I suppose it helps that Sleeping Giants was far from dry, and the ingenious narrative sped up the story considerably. It’s Science-heavy at times but it doesn’t bog the readers down with textbook jargon. The characters are not lacking in personality even though we don’t get to see them outside of the roles that they play – which to me, was brilliant.
Learning about the giant was a curious thing. Neuvel’s writing has the uncanny ability to convinced his readers that they’ve got a vested interest in learning everything they could about the giant – its origin, mechanics, and its abilities. I was enthralled. I got excited every time a new found knowledge came about.
Sleeping Giants opens up the Themis Files series brilliantly. It’s a Sci-Fi for the masses; addictive and entertaining. Neuvel simplified a lot of the Science related aspect of the novel which aided to the smooth as silk reading experience. And with an ending like that, you know I’ll be out there picking up the installment on release day.