Rose Franklin’s course was set when she was riding her new bike and falls down a hole – only to be caught by a gigantic metal hand. Seventeen years later she is part of the team working tirelessly to discover the secret of the hand. Conspiracy, secrets and suspicion abound, with an unnamed interviewer analysing everything and everything that’s happening, with potentially huge ramifications for the earth and beyond…
Remembering this book feels like remembering a dream. It seems disjointed, strangely distant, seen through a strange lens. But thinking on it, I think this is kind of the point. This is a fairly classic plot; ancient alien tech found hidden on earth, approached from a different angle. Here we are not drawn into action, battles or heroics but invited to consider the real impact; individual and corporate, of this kind of discovery on the human race. The narrative style enabled this; but also held the reader at arms length, not allowing us to become fully involved with the characters.
The story is told through a series of interviews and narratives that an unidentified interviewer is conducting. An air of suspicion and slight dread accompanies this. Who is investigating this, and why? The characters are put on edge, and the reader has a sense from the start that something must be going wrong. This isn’t as simple as it seems.
The characters then are seen through a lens, but still their development is impressive. Though Rose’s story arc (from falling into the hand to researching it) seems the stuff of sci-fi films here it is well realised, with interesting psychological effect on her and indeed on those around her.
And the plot doesn’t progress like we expect these stories to. There are setbacks, difficulties, problems that produce more and more questions; not only on the possibilities but morality and wisdom of the research and approach. Our characters doubt themselves and their mission, but become obsessed with finding results.
At the time of reading, this philosophising frustrated me. The nature of the narrative meant that all the action was relayed after the event, and a big part of me just wanted to know what on earth had actually happened, and what was going to happen. But looking back I find I appreciate the more subtle approach; the invitation to think upon all of it. I think approaching the book knowing a little more about it may help a reader to enjoy this particular approach rather than expecting escapism, answers and action.