Review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

UK book cover of Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

So one day I roll up to work without a book, which is quite a distressing situation considering I work about an hour away by public transport. Naturally I go to the library to grab a book (or four, actually, but that’s a whole other issue) with which to entertain myself on the way home. One of these, and the book I actually started reading, was Sleeping Giants. I knew nothing about it going in but it turned out to be amazing.

Plot summary: Deadwood, USA. A
girl sneaks out just before dark to ride her new bike. Suddenly, the
ground disappears beneath her. Waking up at the bottom of a deep pit,
she sees an emergency rescue team above her. The people looking down see
something far stranger…

girl grows up to be Dr. Rose Franklyn, a brilliant scientist and the
leading world expert on what she discovered. An enormous, ornate hand
made of an exceptionally rare metal, which predates all human
civilisation on the continent.

object whose origins and purpose are perhaps the greatest mystery
humanity has ever faced. Solving the secret of where it came from – and
how many more parts may be out there – could change life as we know it.

But what if we were meant to find it? And what happens when this vast, global puzzle is complete…?

I think it’s probably best to read Sleeping Giants without knowing too much about the plot, like I did, so I’m going to keep it vague. Suffice it to say that the story just flies past and I’d finished the book before I knew it.

It’s not told in the standard, narrative prose. Instead, it’s comprised of a series of interviews conducted by a myserious, yet ever present, figure. Part of the mystery is determining exactly who this individual is, and why he’s so interested in the recently discovered rare metal. The interviews allow each of the characters to move the story on, but also to share their own views and opinions which are occasionally controversial.

It works really well – you never actually see anything happen, as you’re told about everything second-hand, but it still somehow feels like an action-packed novel. It also means that you can feel the characters reactions more viscerally than if you were merely reading it from the distance of a third person voice.

The plot takes some quite dark turns, which demonstrate that it’s clearly not meant for a younger audience. I think I might have actually gasped twice. It’s a very odd experience, being shocked by an event that you’re reading one person relay to another, and it possibly makes even more of an impact.

Sleeping Giants ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, but quite an obvious one. I did see it coming, but it’s a twist that I feel positive about so I can’t say I really mind. I’ve already reserved the next book, Waking Gods, at the library and I’m definitely looking forward to reading it.

I’d really recommend this book if you’re looking for accessible, action-packed sci-fi with a dark twist.

Visit Sylvain Neuvel’s blog here, or find him on Twitter.


  1. Ellie Warren says:

    I've seen this a lot on Instagram but I can't recall seeing much else about it so good to hear that it is worth reading. I will go stick it on my wishlist now.

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