In Sylvain Neuvel’s terrific sci-fi novel SLEEPING GIANTS (Del Rey), a young girl named Rose is riding her bike when she falls through the earth into the palm of a giant metal hand that had been buried there for millennia. Years later, the hand is in government storage, and Rose is now an adult scientist studying the hand. When she concludes the hand is of alien origin and must be part of a larger structure, perhaps a robot, a shadowy government operator begins pulling strings to find the missing pieces and find out exactly what it’s for. A weapon, or something else?
The novel is presented as a series of documents, most of them interviews between the government agent (who goes unnamed, and wonderfully emerges as a very tricky operator with brutal social skills) and the project team participants. At first the convention of using documents threw me, as we have people in formal interviews going into exposition about their childhood and whatnot–great for establishing character in fiction, but pushing suspension of disbelief. As the novel finds its depth and the mystery builds, however, Neuvel hits his stride, and the result is a very intelligent and engaging story, sort of like ARRIVAL but with far more action and character development.
The novel was turned into a trilogy, and I’ll be reading the second one shortly. I love the robot, the characters are interesting, the government agent is terrific, and I’ll be happy to see what happens next in this realistic, intelligent story.