tl;dr: fresh and new science-fiction tale that’ll have you on the edge of your seat
Dr. Rose Franklin stumbles on a giant hand in her youth, an amazing discovery that she’s delighted to study later on, in her career as a physicist. The story that embarks from there covers a lot of ground.
The story is framed by an unnamed narrator, whose identity is a mystery, and that mystery is brought up again and again by the people that he interviews. There are so many characters, I don’t know if I can name them all. There are a few key figures here, though, and they all have their own individual arcs within the larger story.
(Minor spoilers ahead.)
Disclaimer: I listened to this on audio, which, while I highly recommend doing so for the huge cast of voice actors that lent their talents, that means that I may not spell characters names as they are supposed to be. I also don’t have a large selection of highlights to go back over in order to refresh my memory. I hope you’ll forgive me this.
Cara and Ryan are two military pilots who are brought into this project by The Narrator, and they are tasked with getting the mysterious pieces of this robot from all corners of the globe. Once they find the midsection of the robot, they discover controls inside that are supposed to guide the robot’s arms and legs, and they both dive into this new duty with relish. However, the linguist that was hired to decipher the cryptic symbols inside one of the chambers a piece was found in, Vincent, turns out to be a better fit for the leg portion, the one that Ryan had been doing. This turns out to be a huge problem because Ryan has his heart set on Cara, but Cara turns toward Vincent instead.
Dr. Franklin hires a geneticist named Alyssa, and when she doesn’t gel with the rest of the team, she is summarily dismissed. However, when she returns, she brings her mad scientist ways with her, bringing up many questions of ethics in the name of science, and how far one should be willing to go for progress.
The bigger questions involve how the robot got on earth, or, maybe more who put it there. We get some sort of fairytale or fable-like story about its origins, but it’s only that: a story. All the pieces are in motion but we don’t quite know what’s real and what’s conjecture. Most of the people involved are fairy certain that the robot is an alien construction, but as far as the first book goes, it is all still shrouded in mystery.
The back and forth nature of this storytelling style could be a little monotonous when reading, but I found it enthralling in the audio version. It sounds like a fictionalized podcast, like Limetown, or The Message. There are no sound effects, however, with only the voices carrying the story, keeping it somewhat pure.
The story is only dialogue and report-type briefs, and it works. Each character has a unique voice and personality that shines through. This book is a feat of writing.
I don’t particularly like science fiction, and the only reason that I picked it up was that a) my book club is doing a sci-fi genre theme over the summer and b) I kept hearing rave reviews on a variety of book websites that I follow and also Mr. Meags told me that it was pretty great. But this book was REALLY GREAT. REALLY.
Find it from your local library! The sequel is also available now.