I’ve enjoyed Morvan’s works in the past: they make you think and wonder where the story will go. With Meka, I think someone was watching Japanese Mecha anime and asking himself, “Hey, if they destroy all those bad giant robots over cities, perhaps the people dying in droves underneath might not consider them saviors.” And so a story was born, a sort of ‘anti-manga’ sci fi tale.
Story: On a planet defended by giant Meka robot, two pilots defeat the bad guys but are incapacitated themselves. Upon exiting their broken meka, they come into contact with the ground – and the devastation their battles are wreaking. Each has different ideals but they will have to work together – not only to survive their own government but also the very put-upon locals.
The core idea of the novel is underscored very often – with closeups under the giant robots of people getting squashed, stomped, or crushed while the battles rage above them. The conflict between the two pilots – idealistic young girl and stiff rule-follower young lieutenant, provide tension as they leave their damaged meka and look for salvation/rescue on the streets of the city. Of course, running into all the bodies of those dead by their actions underscore the fact that they are very unlikely to get any help from those still left alive. Reasoning that they would have been enslaved or worst doesn’t help when nearly everyone is dead anyway.
The illustration work is quite lovely and also drawing influence from anime/manga (I felt a strong westernization of Neon Genesis Evangelion Shinji and Asuka – fiery red head mouthing off against the quieter loser guy). The art forwarded the story well and did a great job of giving perspective between giant mecha and the tiny little ants they were crushing with their battles. I have to admit, though, that I’m not a fan of pastels and the book felt very washed out to me as a result. Perhaps a bit too 1980s?
What keeps this from being a four star book for me are two points: first, this is a too long a book for the simple statement it was making; and second, it’s too short a book for the story that was told. The point about mechas destroying that which they are supposed to protect was made early and convincingly. No need to drag on the chase through the city as long as it did. But that said, if you are going to have a chase through the city, at least create an ending, a punctuation mark to finish the sentence. Meka felt like something was missing and ended far too abruptly. It seemed rather pointless as a result.
So while I read through Meka, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I have other Morvan novels. Reviewed from an ARC.