Sleeping Giants; by Sylvain Neuval; Published by Penguin Random House LLC, New York, N.Y. in 2016; A Series:The Themis Files; Book 1. www.randomhousebooks.com
Rose Franklin is riding her bicycle in her hometown in Deadwood, South Dakota when, as far as Rose is concerned, the world ends. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole; its walls are glowing and the firemen who came to save her are staring down into the hole.
What they see is a little girl at the bottom of a hole lying in a giant hand. The story begins 17 years later. The little girl is grown up now and she is known as Dr. Rose Franklin, an extremely bright physicist who is being interviewed for an unusual job by a powerful employer.
Before Sylvain Neuval started this book he built a giant alien robot in a tale specifically designed for his son. So the story began with two children and one very motivated adult with an extremely varied background. Much like the characters in Sleeping Giants.
The book was originally rejected several times, but Sylvain Neuval persevered. When he sent his manuscript to Kirkus for a review he received an ecstatic review. All of a sudden, he had an agent and Sony was optioning book one of The Themis Files for a movie.
This young novelist was born in Quebec, dropped out of high school and has worked an amazing number of jobs. One of them was in an ice cream shop in California, which endeared him to my heart because that was one of my many jobs. Sylvain sold furniture, went back to school and taught linguistics in India and has worked as a software engineer; is also a certified translator and received his PHD in Linguistics from the University of Chicago.
Well, that’s enough about him. I started reading Sleeping Giants and couldn’t put it down. I finished it in less than a day and a half and just sat there stunned by the ending—about which you couldn’t pay me to give you a clue. Let it be said that there are two more books coming; the next book will be called Waking Gods and is due out in 2017.
Sleeping Giants is set up as a series of interviews with the main characters by CIA type individuals who are privy to information that most people are not. One individual is CW3 Kara Resnick, United States Army, who is a top-notch helicopter pilot.
At the Coleman Army Airfield in Mannheim, Germany, an unknown interviewer talks to Kara about an incident that occurred when she and her co-pilot CW Mitchell were drifting over Syria to try and investigate suspected nuclear development sites. All of a sudden, they noticed light below them, which was unusual in itself because it was farmland.
Then all engines went full stop and for a moment all was peaceful and then they fell into what was once a field. What appears to have brought them down was another piece of the body that the original hand was a part. Secrecy was wrapped as tight as it could be and the piece was shipped back to an unknown giant chamber where the hand was resting.
I found myself reading interview after interview. Things developed and events took place that surprised me and pulled my interest into the story in such a way that I became part of the enterprise. I’m not going to reveal those events because I don’t want to throw spoilers at you.
This book is one of the most dynamic adventures I have ever read. Sylvain Neuvel is terrific and I can’t wait until Waking Gods is released. I always worry when I begin an exciting trilogy at my tender age of 70 because I want to be there when the next book comes out. At this time Sylvain Neuvel plans to complete The Themis Files in three books.
He has a beautiful website that goes with the book and I encourage anyone who has interest in the book to peruse it. It is www.themisfiles.com/ and you will enter the strange world of Sylvain Neuval.
There are people who compare this book to World War Z and The Martian. The only thing this book has in common with World War Z is the interview style. It’s so much better than World War Z—I couldn’t even finish that book. I loved The Martian, to tell the truth, but Sleeping Giants has a magic that goes beyond Mars. It really does. They have the book at Harvard Square Books, and you can get it on Amazon too but if you buy it on Amazon, go to Amazon UK and see if they still have it in stock—the European dust jacket is killer.