Sylvain Neuvel, Sleeping Giants

I am really looking forward to seeing Sylvain Neuvel’s, ‘Sleeping Giants’ coming in to bookshops later this year (on 21 April to be precise).

On coming in to work last week, I found a proof in the staff room and curiosity got the better of me (thank you, Emad Akhtar).

These ‘proofs’ are special advanced reading copies of books publishers are keen to promote among journalists and booksellers especially. The concept works best when publishers are trying to promote a début author’s work. These proof copies are not for sale because though they are close to the finished book, the jacket design and other details are still being finalised so the jacket below…


…may be nothing like the finished book (though I hope Penguin keep with this striking image). All you need to remember in April is SLEEPING GIANTS.

It’s not my usual sort of book to be honest but that’s why I’m so keen on the idea of being able to put the book in the hands of customers. As with the other book I’ve really loved this year (Becky Chamber’s, The Long Road to a Small Angry Planet), it’s the characters that make this book.

Usually, as soon as I see that a book – any book, fiction or non-fiction – is composed of letters, emails, sticky notes or any other gimmick, I usually put it down and never pick it up again (which is a polite way of saying that I dismiss it as a load of ill-considered, poorly-written, under-edited garbage… just tell me the story, damn it). Told in the form of interview transcripts, the story of Dr Rose Franklin and Warrant Officer Cara Resnik tracking down ancient and very hi-tech relics reads like the bastard love-robot of X-Files, Pacific Rim, Cloverfield and Neon Genesis Evangelion as imagined by Clive Cussler and Wilbur Smith.

It would be hard to tell you any more about the novel without giving away some of the twists of the plot so I won’t. Just remember: ‘April’ and ‘Sleeping Giants’.

More generally, I’m enjoying the recent glut of authors and publishers actively promoting the idea that the main protagonists (and antagonists) in fiction don’t have to be recently-retired, male, alcoholic, anti-authority blah blah blah. This is a novel with positive, intelligent female role models I could give my teenage niece – and nephew. It really is long past the time that other genres of fiction caught up to this trend. It’s just a shame that none of the main characters are teenagers because this story would definitely work in the YA section of bookshops but no author can give you everything in a single novel.