Published by Penguin Books Ltd on May 16th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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The Themis Files is a deeply human story about a world-changing alien discovery.
17 years ago, a young girl named Rose fell through the ground in the Black Hills and found herself in an underground chamber filled with gleaming symbols, lying in the palm of a giant metal hand. Now a physicist, Rose leads a research team struggling to determine the hand's origins. When another giant limb is discovered, she quickly devises a method for unearthing the hidden pieces, convinced there is an entire body out there waiting to be found.
Halfway around the globe, Kara watches helplessly as her helicopter shuts down over a pistachio field in Turkey. That'll leave a mark, but she's about to crash her way into what might be the greatest endeavor in human history.
This is a hunt for truth, power, and giant body parts. Written as a series of interview transcripts, journal entries and mission logs, The Themis Files tells the tale of a handful of people whose lives are inexorably linked by the discovery of an alien device and the commotion that follows.
If the words ‘giant robots’ hasn’t encouraged you to pick this book up, then I don’t know what will. I picked up Sleeping Giants upon the recommendation of my trusted book buddies, Jaz and Joy, and I’m so glad I did. It helped to end my three week Gemina obsession that wouldn’t let up – only because it’s a sci-fi told in a similar format.
Told through a series of interviews with multiple characters, diary notes and the occasional file note, Sleeping Giants follows a scientist who has uncovered a mysterious robotic hand from the Earth’s atmosphere. Upon closer inspection, it appears that the technology present in this hand is far beyond man’s capabilities. And so forth, begins the journey to uncover the rest of the parts across the world, the secrets behind the mysterious being and the subsequent effects it will have on mankind.
Generally speaking, people tend not to question what they’ve been told was true. Scientists are no different; they’ve just been told a lot more things.
I wouldn’t have guessed it, but it’s amazing how something like discovering a mysterious object can have such dire and far-reaching impacts upon the people who discover it. Instead of pondering the aliens that manufactured it and wondering about these ancient beings who have been on Earth, it’s amazing just how insular the world can be when looking at these things. Sleeping Giants explores the political impact of the new technology, as nations grapple to gain control of it. In some ways it’s disappointing, but it’s also not entirely surprising, as we would rather focus on power and control rather than explore the possibilities of outer world life.
Although the narrator is unnamed, I was actually really intrigued by his character (I’m assuming it’s a he) as he uses the power of extreme influence and coercion to get what he wants, each and every time. From the President of the United States, to the CEO of the project who is his superior, it’s amazing how he convinces everyone that listening to him is in his best interests. He’s incredibly assertive and has the forethought of planning out everything in advance, leading us into the impressive amount of twists and turns throughout the book.
I also really liked the characters in the book, from the scientist Dr Rose Franklin, to the spunky pilot Kara Resnik, to her co-pilots Ryan Mitchell and Vincent Couture. Each and every character has a secret side to them, and it was fascinating seeing the development of their relationships as they are further immersed in the project. I really enjoyed Kara’s defiance with authority and seeing her make ballsy moves to protect the project, and how the narrator eventually gains her trust. It was also interesting getting to know Ryan, the handsome military soldier who is infatuated with Kara, and Vincent, the arrogant intelligence advisor who has a softer, pragmatic side to him.
While the book doesn’t hesitate to explore the political landscape of uncovering the gigantic robot, it doesn’t really cover the scientific or technological aspects of doing so in much detail. Instead, many of the events happen in retrospect, as the interviews allow us to catch up on events after they unfold. As a result, much of the storytelling is more telling than showing, and the shock of discovering the events in this manner is used as a plot device. Although I wanted more detail behind how things happened, the book progresses at a rather fast pace that kept on surprising me until the very end.
For a twisty, introspective, fast-paced read about mankind’s discovery of an alien technology, Sleeping Giants caught me off guard as a hidden gem of the year. If you’ve read Illuminae or World War Z, you’re already familiar with the format, but this is a unique story will both surprise and intrigue you. I found it quite addictive as I wanted to uncover the secrets behind the technology and wanted to see where the story would take us. It’s a story that will leave you with a lasting impression as you ponder the possibilities of encountering an alien race.
Rating: 5 out of 5