Friday, August 12, 2016
Friday Forgotten (or Overlooked) Book: SLEEPING GIANTS by Sylvain Neuvel
Actually this isn't a forgotten or overlooked book since it was just published this year to some nice reviews, but I'd never heard of it until I stumbled across it online somewhere - 'Forgotten (or Overlooked)' is just a loose interpretation anyway.
This is the first book in a planned trilogy, (trilogies are big now) but far as I'm concerned this can be read quite nicely on its own even if tagged with an ending that surprises and sets us up for the next chapter. Not exactly rocket science, but I am eagerly looking forward to see what happens next. (Yes, yes, I know some of you don't like this sort of story-telling, but I say, pretend it's a very thick book and you are, for some reason, only allowed to read it in thirds.)
When 11 year old Rose goes riding her birthday bike across the landscape near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota she (and her bike) fall down a deep hole in the ground. When finally found by searchers, the girl is alive and sitting in the palm of a gigantic hand.
Many years later, the perplexing riddle of the hand has still not been solved. How old is it?What do the glowing symbols? Who built it? What is it made of? What is its function? Is it merely an ancient work of art? Are there any other parts or is the hand a singular creation?
Naturally enough, after the hand gives up a few of its unsettling secrets, the government gets involved.
Rose Franklin grows up to be a physicist in charge of the riddle. Because her childhood accident seems predestined, she is deemed the perfect person to get to the bottom of the mystery. The hand is thought to be thousands of years old and actually seems to have some sort of functionality. Soon, other parts of a colossal metallic warrior woman are found buried underground at various sites around the world.
To try and figure out the why and the what and the how, Rose is aided by three other people. Two pilots (a woman and a man) and a language expert (a man). Why pilots? Well, you'll have to read the thing to find out. I can't give you everything. Same answer for the language guy.
This seems a small band. But the metallic figure apparently has an eerie propensity for only specific humans. The whole thing is supposed to be a secret, so the less who know the better. I can say no more.
Best of all, the story is revealed bit by bit from journal excerpts, mission logs, official reports, news articles and interviews with a 'Mr. Big' - a kind of all-knowing honcho behind the scenes who may or may not be a government mucky-muck. I am a major fan of this type of story-telling and I was won over almost right away.
Canadian author Sylvain Neuvel is quick with dialogue and plot twists and turns, so that just when you think you know the what of something, it quickly becomes something else. Though there is a bit of an unexpected bog down in the middle (emotional personal baggage shenanigans), this deftly forces the plot to turn down another unexpected avenue. And yet again, another major surprise comes about two thirds of the way through and here we go again, down yet another avenue.
(And of course, where would we be without government conspiracy and behind the scenes chicanery?)
As most science fiction stories do, this one asks itself (and us) to think about The Big Picture, about things greater than ourselves, about the universe and our place in it and this time out, about the accepted history of our world. But nothing very heavy-weight, Neuvel is too bent on telling a fabulous tale.
A delightfully jam-packed thriller (remember those?), with an odd element of creep, SLEEPING GIANTS should immediately be added to your TBR list, if you haven't read it already. Even if you're not a regular science fiction fan, this fast-moving tale has just enough thriller aspects to make up for any implausibilities of plot. And the stuff you're asked to believe is not all THAT preposterous. Well, maybe just a little.
Next book in the trilogy is titled, WAKING GODS. Can't wait.
This Friday, Todd Mason is doing substitute hosting duties for FFB at his blog, Sweet Freedom.