Sleeping Giants / Sylvain Neuvel
New York: Del Rey, c2016.
Young Rose Franklin falls through a hole in the forest floor as she rides her bike home. She's found nestled in the palm of a giant metal hand. What is it? How did it get there? Who is responsible for its long-buried presence? These questions haunt the novel.
Seventeen years later, Rose Franklin is now an accomplished physicist (her name perhaps a nod to scientist Rosalind Franklin, denied her Nobel for the discovery of the structure of DNA?). Rose is part of the search to discover from whom, when, and how these giant metal body parts arrived on earth. When all the parts are found and assembled, they form a body, a robot of sorts which Rose's team then has to figure out. Is it a weapon? A vessel or a ship? A sentinel of peace? Nobody really knows... yet.
The story is told through the formats of interviews, memos, letters and so on -- a modern epistolary novel that is fast moving, inventive and quite cinematic (it has already been optioned for film). It's the first of a projected trilogy, but it doesn't leave the reader hanging. The conclusion is harrowing, exciting, thrillerish, and completes the storyline that has been uncertain in this novel, even while leaving space for a sequel.
It's a mix of science fiction, apocalyptic tale and a political thriller. It's like X-Files with scientists running the show, aided & restricted by the military. It is also about the bigger question: if there is something out there, something far more advanced than humanity, what do they want from us? And where does it leave us, and all our human cultural past?
Part two, Waking Gods, should be published next year, and will hopefully continue exploring these more philosophical questions along with the entertaining action and suspense. This was a very quick read, but one that I thought was rather clever and had a fresh narrative style.