Does it deserve a big hand?
released 21 April 306 pages | Hardback/ paperback/ ebook
Author Sylvain Neuvel
Publisher Del Rey
Having your book optioned for a movie before it’s even been published is most authors’ dream, so well done to Canadian writer Sylvaine Neuvel on his debut, Sleeping Giants.
As a young girl, Rose Franklin falls into a hole containing a giant alien hand. Years later, she ends up on a research project examining this device. After it’s discovered to be part of a huge robot, a government conspiracy is set in train to retrieve the rest of the parts for the US before anyone else can figure out what’s happening.
The mode of storytelling is the book’s most engaging aspect: it’s a modern- day form of the epistolary novel, told mostly as a series of interviews with various characters and the mysterious, never- named head of the project. For the most part it works well, although credibility is stretched in several segments where the unnamed puppetmaster is listening in on live events, as characters describe in exacting detail what’s happening to them in unrealistic fashion.
The publisher likens the story to Interstellar, The Martian and Gravity, but it’s not in the same league. Sleeping Giants provides a fraction of the fascinating, real- life science of The Martian, for example. Essentially, the story is the finding of an anime- style mecha, with a love triangle as the main plot drive. The Quebecois linguist character is so borderline Mary Sue it comes close to grating.
And not very much really happens in terms of brain- popping SF. There’s a lot of running about that feels a tad like stuffing. It’s part one of a larger story that perhaps could have been much compressed. As a result, even as the prose style propels you to the end, you realise you’re not going to get much bang for your buck. Fun, but far from essential.
The book was optioned by Sony last year. David Koepp ( Jurassic Park, Spider- Man) is adapting it into a screenplay.
Not in the same league as The Martian