Book review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
Series: The Themis Files #1
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: April 26, 2016
Source: Borrowed

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.

I’d never heard about The Themis Files when I impulsively checked Sleeping Giants out from my library. Then, all of a sudden, it was everywhere. I swear, I’ve seen like twenty separate people talking about this series and it came out of absolutely nowhere. I was so excited to start reading it because of all the rave reviews, but… yikes. This book was not for me.

Things I liked:

  • It started out pretty strong with a situation in which the researchers needed a linguist. A LINGUIST! That’s me! I studied Linguistics in college and, aside from the FBI in the Unabomber case, nobody really cares about linguists!
  • The premise of the book is really interesting. I actually love the idea of a young girl riding her bike down the street and falling into a huge hand buried underneath the street. There are definitely a ton of Stranger Things and Pacific Rim vibes in this book.
  • I like the format! I actually love that the story is told through interviews, journal entries, case files, etc.

Things I didn’t like:

  • So, here’s the thing: Rose is a physicist. She has a Ph.D. in physics. During her experiment, she monitors the health of her employees. She is a doctor (Ph.D.!) but she is not a physician (M.D.!). The US government is so interested in this random robot that they’ve given her an unlimited budget, but they can’t hire her a physician? There is a very, very big difference between a physicist and a physician. Coincidentally, I know an unrealistically large number of physicists and physicians. Their job duties do not remotely overlap. I hope I just misunderstood this.
  • I am also unclear on why a physicist is reassembling a robot?
  • Who the heck is this interviewer and why is he so unprofessional? Why is he interviewing all of these people about their sex lives? So weird. I don’t go around telling random men about whether I’m attracted to my coworkers and how many drinks it takes for me to take my clothes off.
  • Speaking of the interviewer, how does he have so much power? How is he even allowed to do things like blackmail (actual) physicians?
  • Every female character (including the ROBOT) is described in minute detail but the male characters are described very vaguely, like, for example, “a Captain America type.” It’s odd.
  • I didn’t even care about the big plot twists with Rose and Vincent.

I’m so picky about sci-fi and this book just didn’t do it for me. I can see why a lot of people have enjoyed it, but I don’t feel any need to read the rest of the series.


Have you read Sleeping Giants? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!


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22 thoughts on “Book review: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

  1. bwreviews says:

    This is on my TBR (and I’m pretty sure I own it on my Kindle) but it’s so disappointing to see this review! I’ve heard such good things about it, but nothing like this. I’m sorry it was a miss for you!

    – Caidyn

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kim @ Traveling in Books says:

    This one looked interesting, but you are the second reviewer I’ve seen in two days who has panned it, so I think I will skip it…

    Have you seen Arrival? It’s a sci fi movie that came out a couple of years ago about a linguist hired by the government to decipher an alien language. It’s fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Maddie // Munch Reviews says:

    I have hovered over this one so many times debating if I should add it to the TBR.

    I haven’t heard the greatest things about the third boom so I’m not sure if I want to dive into this series.

    But some people rave about the series as a whole! And I really love the covers.

    Great review, I’m glad I got to see your perspective!!

    Liked by 1 person

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