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. 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?
Okay, just look at that synopsis. Giant metal creatures! Political intrigue! Possibility of aliens! Badass female scientists! It looks like the perfect recipe for an epic and thrilling book.
Sadly, it really disappointed me. Why?
The novel is written in an interview format (interspersed with some letters and diary entries), and the interviewer is anonymous. It got really difficult to differentiate between the characters - they all sounded the same! None had distinct voices. It was so hard to get a good grasp on each character's personality when you were just getting all the information from interviews that all sounded like they were of the same person.
Literally the only person whom I could differentiate clearly from the rest of them was the interviewer, and not just because his text was bolded. He actually had a distinct speaking style - more formal and distant and official. But we don't really find out a lot about him anyway. He seemed the coolest of them all.
The plot started out very intriguingly, with a lot of questions to be answered, and I was excited to get those answers. Well, the story quickly got a little (that is to say, VERY) confusing. I know it's the first of a series, but there were questions in the beginning that totally weren't answered in the end. When I started, I was forgiving of the confusion - new book, new worldbuilding - but by the end I had more questions than answers. The first book is supposed to set the stage for the series, and yet I didn't feel grounded enough in the world to be comfortable in it.
Once I stopped following what was going on, it just got boring. On Goodreads (where I actually do star ratings but don't take them very seriously), I was planning on giving it a three-star rating, if the ending was satisfactory (for a book one in a series, obviously), but it wasn't, so my rating slid down to two. The conclusion didn't feel conclusion, and even though I like cliff-hangers as much as the next guy*, even a book with a sequel should have some kind of resolution.
*meaning I hate them from a feels standpoint but love them from a literary standpoint.
In general, the book felt flat to me. You know how there's that storytelling mountain? The one with exposition, development, climax, resolution? Yeah, this book felt about as mountainous as a speed bump, except for one scene in the climax that, yeah, was pretty enthralling, I admit. :-)
Firstly, as I mentioned, it's written in interview format, and I will ALWAYS be excited when a book has an interesting narrative structures. I love when authors experiment with that sort of thing, and it makes it feel fresh.
Also, I really liked the concepts behind the science fiction - monsters! aliens! actual science! As a nerd, I'm always appreciative when there are other nerdy characters (hello Rose Franklin! Is your name a nod to the real-life scientist Rosalind Franklin who discovered DNA? I think so!). The book references actual research and I just loved how sciency it all was.
The idea behind the novel was super fascinating, even if it wasn't executed in the best way. I could see this becoming a pretty good film, actually. And a lot of people give it really good reviews, so I'm probably just the weird odd-one-out. So if you think you'd like it, give it a try!
Thanks to Random House Publishing for the advance copy! Sleeping Giants came out April 26th and is available in bookstores now!
Have you read Sleeping Giants? What did you think? Do you like unique formatting/narrative styles in novels? And can you recommend any other super science-nerdy books?