April Book Review Club: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Rose is out riding her new bike when she falls through the earth and makes an astounding archaeological discovery – a massive hand, buried in what appears to be some kind of man-made chamber whose walls are covered with carvings. Seventeen years later, Rose is a physicist, working to crack the code of the carvings on the cave walls, hoping to find an answer to the hand. Theories and conspiracies abound, especially in light of carbon dating that places the hand well before technology should have existed to create such a thing. As Rose and her colleagues are interviewed regarding their work by a man who seems to know more than he lets on, the question remains – what is this ancient sculpture and is it safe in the hands of those who hide it from the American public?

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“Am I ready to accept all that may come out of this if it works? It might give us the cure for everything. It might also have the power to kill millions. Do I want that on my conscience?”

This book was just a ton of fun. Mysterious artifacts, government conspiracies, fringe science, international political intrigue, an icy “mastermind”…this book was like a science-fiction version of Indiana Jones, if Indy had ever stuck around after getting back from his treasure hunting. It was solidly science fiction while still being grounded in enough real life to make it feel relatable. That’s not to say the science was sound (interspecies breeding when it comes to humans is an old trope but still firmly in the realm of fiction) but it was at least recognizable, to some extent.

The story is told through journal entries and interviews, with a handful of radio transcripts and news reports thrown in as well. It’s been done (and perhaps overdone) but it worked really well here. The interviewer becomes a character in and of himself and you come to realize that he knows a bit more than he originally lets on. I got a total Smoking Man vibe from him and loved every bit of it. Interestingly, you eventually realize that the “files” you’re reading are numbered and that they are incomplete – numbers are skipped with no explanation – and I immediately wondered if this was a part of the mystery. Are they implying that there’s information we’re *not* being given? Will we see it later? As mysteries are solved more arise, teasing the reader all the way to the end.

All in all this book was a complete win for me. It was exciting, action-packed, and I can’t wait to dive into the sequel, Waking Gods, that was published today.

(Thank you to NetGalley and to Del Ray Publishing for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

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@Barrie Summy