Thursday, November 3, 2016

One of My Favorite Reads of October | Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I finally have some reviews ready to post! It's been awhile. I don't have many to catch up on, but most of what I will be posting about went well for me.

I listened to Sleeping Giants, and I do a lot of gushing have a lot to say on the audiobook. Thank you to Michelle from MichEllisLife for buddy reading the book with me! Her review is up on her channel.
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 literary thriller fueled by a quest for truth - and a fight for control of earthshaking power.

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 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?

*Released April 26th 2016 from Random House Audio*

Looking back at the reading experience, I'm a bit surprised that I was so into this one. Adult science fiction is definitely out of my comfort zone. Also, I'm still very comfortable with my 4.5 star rating, which I can sometimes regret after some time has gone by. (I'm very picky with my highest ratings.) Anyway, onto my thoughts on the book . . . 

The audiobook is fantastic! With a full cast, it's brimming with energy and emotion. It kept me engaged and excited to keep listening. One of my favorite parts was how well the barely contained anger came through in the more intense interviews and conversations. The narrator for the nameless interviewer was my favorite because of that. He had a formidable, mysterious presence that was only enhanced with the proper way of speaking and a calm demeanor. There were tense moments where his feathers were clearly ruffled, and those sure had me sucked into the story.

I feel like I saw a complaint in some reviews about lack of character development or not being able to get to know the characters enough, but that is very different than what I got from the book. I felt like I got a REALLY good read on the characters' personality, motives, and emotions, especially with the audiobook. I could feel Dr. Franklin's fascination and awe of what she was studying. I could sense Kara's frustration and annoyance and could definitely see how hard she was to get close to. I got Ryan's hope and could tell how inexperienced he was with everything compared to the others on the team. I got a good read on Vincent's intelligence and his dry wit (as well as Kara's, which is something they have in common) and his strength of will. I did not NEED to know so much about their pasts, their family relationships, their likes, etc. to really care for them. Those things were still there, but they were revealed in small details or through interview topics.

I wish I had a timeline! Just having months and years listed would be sufficient. It would make it easier to track the progression of the story and the project. Sometimes the characters don't see each other for MONTHS and it's easy to lose track of how much time has lapsed since the very first interview with Dr. Franklin. (Okay, near the end, four years is given as an approximate time that the book had to have taken place within.) 

Being a reader that can get really bored of politics and the military in books (and movies/shows), I'm surprised to say that I was really into all of that in Sleeping Giants. That's probably because the details were presented in a way that was easy to understand. There also wasn't a ton of confusing scientific jargon. Other than Dr. Franklin and possibly Vincent (with his explanations of linguistics and math), most of the characters were more straightforward with their explanations.

The robot was fascinating! It's scary, yet awe-inspiring. What intrigues me the most is the theories on WHY the parts were buried all across the earth. Details on its materials, mechanics, weapons, and aesthetics were cool, but I'm so curious about whatever grand plans were intended for the robot. It has to be something epic considering that the robot itself is an epic THING.

Also, this book is very intense! I listened to most of it at 1.4x speed and some at 1.2x, which made a lot of the more tense scenes more urgent. Voices had a more clipped tone at these speeds, like the characters were trying to get things done more efficiently. Sometimes I switched back to the original speed and it felt sooo unnatural for the characters.

Most of the book is told in interviews between the nameless man and various other characters, though there are some journal entries, mission logs, transcripts, and other audio files. There is a nice dose of humor. There's also many shocking, exciting, and tense moments that made it hard to put the book down. I listened to half of it one day and listened to the other half on the day I resumed it. I'm impressed by that because I was nervous about it taking me a long time to get through. Audiobooks are very new to me! This is only the fourth one I've ever finished. I definitely want to pick up more now, though.

Sometimes I felt like a little kid with her nose pressed up against a glass, staring wide-eyed at a beautiful, awesome animal. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and was surprised very, very often. I feel like I liked this a lot more than friends and acquaintances who have read it, which makes me feel a bit easily impressed by shiny concepts and an interesting format, but man did I enjoy listening to this book. I had a great experience with this one!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Discussion Prompts

I'm going to go with two relatively simple questions:

1) What was a book that you really enjoyed, but seemed to have a lot of meh reviews from people you knew?
2) What was a book that had you wide-eyed and awed?

Happy Reading! ~ Kaitlin ☺

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