Sleeping Giants

August 22, 2017
Sleeping Giants Book Cover Sleeping Giants
Themis Files, #1
Sylvain Neuvel
Science Fiction
Del Rey
April 26th, 2016
Borrowed from Lexi

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—its origins, architects, and purpose unknown. Its carbon dating defies belief; military reports are redacted; theories are floated, then rejected.

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?

An inventive debut in the tradition of World War Z and The Martian, told in interviews, journal entries, transcripts, and news articles, Sleeping Giants is a thriller fueled by a quest for truth—and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

(via Goodreads)


Let me begin by stating: I *adore* epistolary novels. Epistolary novels are those written as a series of documents. Some of my favorites include The Illuminae Files (Illuminae and Gemina) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. One of the most famous epistolary novels you might have read is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Traditionally, these are novels composed entirely of letters. But some, such as The Illuminae Files, use a combination of different documents. In our modern world, it’s hard to ignore text messages, email communications, and postings online as part of the documents which compose our lives. In Sleeping Giants we are treated to something similar; a collection of documents which describe the discovery and scientific exploration of the first alien artifacts on Earth.

I was smart enough to know it was wrong, but not brave enough to stop them.

As epistolary novels go, this is a unique one. The oral history of the discovery of the alien artifacts is unveiled to the reader through a series of chronological personal journal entries, mission logs, news reports, interviews, official military reports, and interview transcripts. While the characters of our story are diverse and easily distinguished, our possible narrator is not. An unnamed, cryptic, emotional-intelligence deprived gentleman conducts the majority of the interviews. It seems to the reader as though he is the one collecting these documents and telling our story– but it is never really clear if this is the case or not.

The mystery of the alien artifacts is only one piece of a hugely compelling story. We explore the psyches of all the characters, sans our unnamed one, as the story unfolds. Through the unique combination of documents, we get to explore the characters minds while simultaneously viewing them from the outside. What we are left with is a really intriguing exploration of humanity; watching them interact with the unknown for the first time. From the world-famous physicist who is on a task to discover the purpose and use of these artifacts while preserving her crew, to the army pilots who need to learn how to fly them, to the linguist who needs to make sense of the alien symbols– we have an intimate view of a story which is pushing mankind to their limits. Even though Neuvel doesn’t shy away from ethical dilemmas and metaphysical ideas, the content is consistently approachable from the perspective of these characters.

“Yes. This, all that’s happening now, this is your bat mitzvah. You can play with atomsd, you can sit with the grown-ups.”
“What does that mean for us?”
“That means you won’t be forgiven for childhood mistakes anymore.”

As the rest of the world discovers what the United States is up to (that is, locating and consolidating alien artifacts from all over the world which seem to capable of incredible destructive power), paranoia and fear begin to escalate. Quickly the original science experiment becomes an international incident putting the world on the brink of war. By bringing these international elements into play, Neuvel suddenly has developed a science-fiction thriller.

Reading this, I was challenged to attempt to answer so many questions. What would it mean if alien artifacts were discovered on Earth? How would that affect global politics? What would the impact be on the individuals who handled them? What would such discoveries do to propel science? Religion? Are there really aliens out there waiting for us? Are they friend or foe? And is this whole discovery worth it?

It’s easier to be just one more solider in a giant army than being the whole army by yourself.

When I finally closed Sleeping Giants, I immediately craved more. This sci-fi thriller pulled me in without me even noticing. I am captivated by the plot, the themes, and the characters– in particular our unnamed narrator. I cannot wait to begin book two!

What do you think?

  • Have you read Sleeping Giants? What do you think of this book? Are you adding this to your TBR?
  • Do you enjoy epistolary novels? What are your favorites?
  • What are other science fiction novels which have caught your attention lately?


  • Ann Marie August 22, 2017 at 9:11 am

    This looks very interesting. Sci-fi is not my usual genre (though I have been known to love a few!) but I do love epistolary novels! 84 Charing Cross Road and His Bloody Project (lots of court and medical documents) are also great reads.

    • Jackie B August 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Ooooh– those are both new to me! Yay! I’m so excited for new epistolary novels to add to my TBR. 84 Charing Cross Road sounds totally up my alley; how have I never heard of this before?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel August 22, 2017 at 10:25 am

    Looks like you loved everything about the book! I want to read Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods one day. Interesting that a science fiction novel is written so well in epistolary format. I am sure you will be picking the next book too.

    • Jackie B August 23, 2017 at 9:47 am

      I will certainly be picking up Waking Gods soon! The waiting list is pretty long at the library, so it might be a few weeks, but I think I can wait. 😉

      I really did love everything about the book. Which is interesting, because I didn’t connect super well with all the characters. I think that didn’t matter to me since I was so impressed with their development. I don’t have to like the characters in order to like the character development, or the book as whole.

  • KrystiYAandWine August 22, 2017 at 2:14 pm

    Yay! Five stars!!! Okay, I haven’t read this book yet! It’s been on my TBR forever, and I know I really need to. Especially if you’ve given it five stars! Wonderful review by the way! I’ve heard nothing but great things. I also love epistolary novels. Dracula is actually one of my favorite classics, so you have my convinced. I didn’t know these books used that format. The cover for the third book that was just revealed last week for the next book is gorgeous! I will definitely be catching up before that one comes out! You’ve officially convinced me!

    • Jackie B August 23, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Reading this comment fills me with so much joy: There is so much excitement here! YAY!

      Confession: I haven’t read Dracula yet! It’s on my TBR. I don’t know why I haven’t, honestly. I’m a big baby? Classic monster scares me? Who knows. I’m hoping to read it this October.

      ARGH. There will be a third book?! *sigh* I just want to read the complete series. I thought it was a duology. Alas. I must wait. I’m TERRIBLE at waiting. 😉

      • KrystiYAandWine August 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm

        Hahaha! Good. I have no chill when it comes to books I’m excited about, so it ends up being a lot of gushing and exclamation points. Super professional, right? LOL.

        Dracula is actually surprisingly creepy for how old it is. It totally scared me, so I don’t blame you, but you should read it! I just got my hubz to read it this year, and he really isn’t reader.

        Oh no! I forgot that you are a wait until the series is out girl. Yes, there’s another one coming. 🙂

        • Jackie B August 26, 2017 at 10:17 am

          Super professional. But honestly, it makes me the most happy. Don’t stop! I also tend to include a lot of emojis and exclamation points in my comments when I’m excited. You don’t need to be professional in your comments. This is about the dialogue!

          Hahaha. I don’t expect anyone to memorize my reading habits. You’re just fine. I just sometimes don’t do enough research before I start a book. That’s 100% on me in this case. But there are other cases where I’ve started series books before the publisher/author even announced it was part of a series! (Gilded Cage, I’m looking at you!) That’s just frustrating.

          • KrystiYAandWine August 27, 2017 at 6:14 pm

            Okay, good! I try to tone down my fangirling sometimes based on my audience, but it’s not nearly as much fun. 🙂

            I can totally see why that would be frustrating. I do wish it was made apparent before we start reading if it’s a series or not, even though I love waiting for books to come out. I prefer it when they are formatted on GR like (Insert book title) (Insert book series #1). That way we know what we’re signing up for.

  • Laila@BigReadingLife August 23, 2017 at 11:33 am

    I have had this on my TBR for forever. Just never have picked it up. But it sounds most intriguing!! I’m glad you liked it so much, that makes me excited to read it.

    • Jackie B August 25, 2017 at 9:25 am

      I definitely recommend it if you enjoy epistolary novels. I was enraptured from beginning to end, and I laughed a bit too! Which was surprising to me considering the synopsis.

  • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks August 23, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Sleeping Giaaaaants! I really want this series! I’ve been eyeing it forever and I have lost hope it will EVER go on sale xD (international sale, at that! American Amazon sales don’t always translate to international ones) I knew you’d love this. Wait, this is the first installment, right? I constantly mix those up xD

    Also, since we mostly communicate through comments xD my sister said she would bring me back the rest of the Red Rising books next month! She’s visiting from the States. There are MANY reasons I love my sister. 😀

    • Jackie B August 25, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Yes! This is the first installment. I only recently learned it will be a TRILOGY, though. I thought it was a duology and both books were published. Shame on me. I guess I’ll have to take my time reading the second book, but not too long or I’ll forget everything that happened!

      Have you read these books yet? I can’t wait to talk about them with you. 😀

      Your sister sounds awesome. Does she live in the States? Speaking of, do you read most of your books in English or in Lithuanian? Or something else? You probably know a billion languages. I have no idea how many Balkan languages there are, but I know Prussian is considered one! Too bad no one speaks it any longer…

      • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks August 26, 2017 at 3:41 pm

        I haven’t, they haven’t been on sale xD (Evelina’s policies…)

        Also, my sister ordered the books, but luck has it that Golden Son is scheduled to arrive pretty much on the day she leaves to the airport, so… xD damn! Yeah, she lives in the States. Her mom emigrated – we only have the same dad.

        Yeah, I read most of my books in English, they’re either ARCs or from Amazon.. Lithuanian books cost too much, and I don’t like buying print books (kind of a waste). But I sometimes I grab a Lithuanian library book. I used to read Japanese books when I had more time… it was very relaxing. I still have a lot, but no time to read them – cause I wasn’t fluent, so it took me a while. And with this blogger schedule? Not possible.

        Hah, apparently Prussia was close to Lithuania in ancient days… something hazy comes up from history class. But I don’t know about Balkan languages, I don’t think I know a single one? As for Baltic, there are just two currently, Latvian and Lithuanian. Not related to anything else xD

        • Jackie B August 27, 2017 at 11:05 pm

          Your policies should totally be respected. I only buy books personally if I have read the book before OR it’s on my auto-buy list (right now only consisting of anything from The Illuminae Files or anything Rainbow Rowell has ever written). All other book buys are only from gifts. I totally abuse my library/Kindle Lending Library.

          Did you study Japanese in school? Did you teach yourself? How do you know how to read it?! THIS IS SO COOL! I love the idea of learning a character-based language like Chinese, Japanese, or Korean. I technically know biblical Hebrew, but that’s a bit of a joke for me– I’m not good enough to read much at this point.

          HAHAHA. I totally meant Baltic. That’s hilarious and super embarrassing. I can draw a map of Europe by hand but I can’t write the words correctly. Do you know Latvian? Ugh #Embarrassed

          • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks August 29, 2017 at 4:53 pm

            Taught myself! Yes, I’m a maniac. Actually, Korean is just an alphabet, you can learn it in a few hours 🙂 Japanese though… a lot more magical! Too bad I haven’t read in a while. A lot of that knowledge is probably already lost to me 🙁

            Nope, I don’t know Latvian, only some words coincide, but they usually mean backwards things and sound very funny xD Hebrew though? How do you know Hebrew xD biblical Hebrew too??

            • Jackie B August 30, 2017 at 10:14 am

              You *taught yourself*?! Wow. I’m super impressed! How long did that take?! And can you read the characters as well as understand the spoken language? I’m just blown away.

              I’m a practicing Jew, so I spent years as a child learning how to read the Torah. The text in the Torah hasn’t been changed for over 2300 years; they found some dead sea scrolls with identical text recently. Huge deal. So, I used to be great at understanding what I was reading… now I can pronounce it but rarely understand it. My vocabulary stinks.

              • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks August 30, 2017 at 2:41 pm

                Well I’ve taught myself at least three languages xD it was the thing I did. Before I taught myself guitar and piano, and then dropped that for blogging. I’m a weirdo xD

                It never went well with Korean, so I can still read, but not understand or talk. It should still work with Japanese though, maybe if I did a review. Japanese was just natural for me. Took a year to where I could write long letters to people, but I was never fluent, cause it takes actually hanging out with people. But I could read well and without using the dictionary too much. There are slightly under 2000 kanji you have to learn to read Japanese, I could understand around 1000 of them when I dropped active language study for music. I will have forgotten most of those by now 🙁 but one day… I mean, if I was suddenly stranded in Japan, I would not perish xD or Spain. Or Germany. Or Russia. Or… yeah. That’s coming from a girl who has fear of travel and has never been anywhere xD

                Oh dang, that’s pretty cool! Knowing a language that old. It’s really too bad about the vocab, but it’s always the toughest part of any language!

              • Jackie B August 30, 2017 at 3:13 pm

                You are crazy and wonderful and amazing and I adore you. You must have such a talent for languages! Why did you decide on those languages? And it’s a shame you’re afraid of travel– I really enjoy traveling as long as I have a solid plan and I’m home with my schedule after 2.5 weeks. 😉

  • LizScanlon August 24, 2017 at 5:16 am

    In a way, I imagine that reading epistolary novels that include docs and snippets, etc like being an investigator? You know, somewhere in a library or office, trawling through papers to get to the bottom of things 😀
    This does sound good.. I will have to try this.. and I love aliens!

    • Jackie B August 25, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Yes!~ That is quite a bit what it feels like. The Illuminae Files feels more like that than this book, only because they are the files supporting a court case. I think the idea that we have a central “narrator” makes it feel a bit less like we are the investigator. It’s obvious our narrator is doing the searching– but I love him.

      I hope that you enjoy this when you get a chance to read it!

  • Dani @ Perspective of a Writer August 25, 2017 at 12:57 am

    I’ve actually heard this was good but didn’t know it was in the vein of Illuminae files… I read a YA series very similar to this… how exciting to read an adult version! Was it a quick read Jackie?!

    • Jackie B August 27, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      It was definitely a quick read for me. But if you aren’t used to the epistolary format, it might take longer.

      What YA series are you thinking this is similar to? I’d love to check it out!

  • Sarah @ Reviews and Readathons August 28, 2017 at 8:27 pm

    I bought the Kindle version of this as a Book Riot deal. I’m really eager to get to it. I don’t think I realized it had a non-traditional format, but now I’m even more eager to read it (I, too, am an Illuminae fan). Great review!

    • Jackie B August 29, 2017 at 11:08 am

      Thanks, Sarah! The eBook does some interesting things with font colors to help you identify who is talking. I didn’t even realize you could have grey font on a Kindle! I look forward to your future review.

  • theorangutanlibrarian August 29, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Gosh this sounds amazing!! And so deep! I’ve been on the fence about reading this for ages- and now I feel like I have to read it. Great review!

    • Jackie B August 29, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      I really hope you do! It gave me a lot to consider. Plus there is some great character development! The second book is already out, but they only recently revealed the cover for book three– I didn’t realize it was a trilogy! Oh well, someday I’ll get to them all. 😀

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