Monday, August 1, 2016

Sleeping Giants Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Themis Files Book One
Pages: 320

Buy on Amazon!

Super INTJ

The arm of a giant robot is discovered deep underground. Radio carbon dating puts it over 5,000 years old. An expedition is soon underway to find the remaining parts and put together the giant robot. And to figure out how it got there.

Sleeping Giants is the debut novel by author Sylvain Neuvel, a man who didn't graduate high school, but managed to get his Ph.D. in linguistics. All that education certainly comes out in the formal prose, which is overly stiff and rigid. But Neuvel is clever, and he uses a "stiff" format that relies almost exclusively on having interviews with all of his characters to deliver the plot. When there aren't interviews, there are interludes or journal entries that allow readers to get some perspectives from the other characters. It's a writing style that I eventually got used to, but its rigidity is something that will be turn off for people who will care about prose. Then again I'm one of those people, and I still had a fun time reading this.

The interviewer that remains unnamed throughout the novel turned out to be my favorite character. There's an aura of conspiracy and mystery around him. It's not just the lack of a name, but it's the fact that he has a myriad of powerful connections and information sources. He comes across like the Man With The Cigarette from the X-Files. 

For those of you out there that are familiar with the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, this character is INTJ to the core. And INTJ personality types are known for being cerebral planners ... which of course leads to them often being type cast as villains in many stories. Think Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars or Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter. This time around that's not the case. Neuvel has managed to create a pretty hardcore INTJ and NOT paint them as a villain. It's a feat I really respect, especially since I've never really come across character with the traits that this unnamed narrator has, without said character being evil.

The people being interviewed are almost exclusively brought in to work on the robot project. These characters include Dr. Rose Franklin a compassionate doctor who begins to contemplate the ethics of the project they're working on; Kara Resnik a former pilot who can't fly due to an ailing eye problem; Robert Woodhull Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and a kind of rival to the unnamed narrator; Vincent Couture, a graduate student with a passion for research; Ryan Mitchell a soldier in the army; and Alyssa Papantoniou Ph.D. a geneticist and assistant to Dr. Franklin. Of these characters most of the time is spent on Kara and Vincent, both of whom are deeply flawed, but sympathetic.

The worldbuilding especially when concerning the robot is done real well. The play by play discovery of finding the pieces, putting those pieces together, and how this all comes together is what really drives the plot and makes everything a lot of fun. It's this aspect that convinced me to read to the end.

Score: 6.9

No comments:

Post a Comment