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Book Review – Sleeping Giants

Hi all, I’m happy to announce that the blog problems are all fixed and I’m jumping back into the swing of it for good. Since it’s been about a decade since I told you what I’d been reading, I wanted to start the routine with a book review:

sleeping giantsSleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel. This is one of the nicest surprises I’ve had in a while. Jeff O’neal from Bookriot tweeted about it and I picked it up for a couple of bucks.

The setup is pretty irresistible. If you read World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, or books like Louder Than Hell, The Definitive Oral History Of Metal, you’re familiar with the oral history format. Basically it just means you get lots of first person accounts from people Who Were There to witness whatever the calamity was. 

In this case, it starts with a young girl reminiscing about a walk in the woods. Suddenly, the ground fell away from under her feet. When she came to, she was looking up at her father, far above.

He saw something very different: his daughter, at the bottom of a hole whose existence made no sense, cradled in the palm of a metal hand.

Then we switch to the statements of other people, all of whom are involved in the effort to discover and assemble the remaining body parts. First, a forearm is found. When put in proximity to the hand, the two pieces snap themselves together.

This question is at the forefront for most of the book: What’s going to happen when they snap the whole body together? 

Everything that follows is far more inventive and frantic than anything I could have expected. When I realized what was happening, I thought that the oral history format was an odd choice for the story, but it totally works. Especially since most of the subjects are interviewed by one person whose identity is unknown.

There is some fantastic alien mythology, an unorthodox surgery that you won’t soon forget, and a pace that made this a book I finished in one sitting. It’s a fun read, but there are some heavy themes at play as well. How many lives are worth sacrificing on behalf of progress? Whose version of progress should be pursued? Is there a point where the potential risks outweigh the scientist’s experiments?

It’s an arms race the likes of which I’d never seen, and Sleeping Giants is the first in a series, so I can’t wait to see where it goes next.

If you’re looking for anything else to read, I just finished The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker, which I highly recommend, The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, which is incredibly intense and you should not read before a camping trip, and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea by Jules Verne, which is always the right choice.

Glad to be back. What are you all reading these days?


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Johann Thorsson August 15, 2016, 3:16 pm

    Hey hey,

    I also saw Jeff saying nice things about Sleeping Giants and will be picking it up soon (if the two of you recommend it…).

    Just picked up Lauren Beukes upcoming collection of stories and essays, Slipping.

    • Josh Hanagarne August 15, 2016, 3:27 pm

      I hadn’t seen the Beukes, I’m going to grab it mow. Sleeping Giants is hard to beat for $2 or whatever it was.

  • Michael LaRocca August 15, 2016, 7:51 pm

    Welcome back!

  • Beth Gainer August 18, 2016, 2:22 pm

    Hi Josh!
    Glad you’re back. The book you are describing sounds remarkable, and I’m adding it to my ever-expanding to-read list. I love to read and try my best to make time for it. I’m reading War and Peace now; I’m 67% done with it, but who’s counting? Little by little, I’ll get it done.