Only Human (Themis Files #3)

35820656“I can’t make the forest grow faster because I want it to. I can’t will it to grow. It takes time. I hoped it could happen during my lifetime, but I don’t think it can. All I can do is plant some seeds, take care of the seedlings, and hope someone else does it after I’m gone.” 

Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Category: Science Fiction
Publication Date: May 1st, 2018
Podcast Discussion: Episode 72

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Thank you to the publisher for an advance copy  of this book in exchange for an honest review!

The final book in a trilogy that has been a fantastic ride, is always a hard pill to swallow. Only Human closes the exciting adventure in Themis Files. To say that this book takes a “left turn” is an understatement. Instead of furthering the grand story of robots and aliens, this final book in the series instead brings the story home to examine humanity.

With this documentary style of writing, we have followed a cast of characters throughout the last two books. While all of them have great character development, our favorite has to be the Unnamed Interviewer. He was a good portion of our window into this world and his interactions with other people is one of the big things that drew us in. That being said, the lack of his presence is sorely missed. Characters like Rose and Vincent do bring their own looks at the world but not having the Interviewer to as a narrator was a gap that unfortunately did not feel filled in this book.

On that note, with the interviewer having been a very substantial part of how the story was told in the first two installments, not having his perspective and the interviews that he conducted meant that the format of the storytelling had to be stretched a little bit. We saw this some in Waking Gods with news clips which fit into and added to the storytelling nicely. However, in Only Human, several of the chapters were recorded conversations between characters that did not seem like something that would be recorded or else that there would be no way to retrieve those recordings.

This broke the immersion a little bit in that it kind of stuck out from otherwise seamless storytelling but ultimately wasn’t too big of a deal

The examination inside humanity that we get dives deep into dark issues that we face today. Racial profiling, discrimination, religious hatred, and a propensity to let fear rule our decisions. And that just scratches the surface. Only Human is largely about humans’ reactions to learning that there are in fact aliens and their relation to those aliens. The scariest thing is how all of the decisions made feel like they could be possible in our reality. Unfortunately, there are people that exist like this in our world. Only Human does a fantastic job at not only showing a dark part of our humanity, but exploding it to the biggest degree to explain why the events going on in our world are equally terrible.

It is difficult to dive too much into this book since it is the last one in a trilogy. Instead of making the big robot war or space opera that we were expecting Sylvain Neuvel takes us to a dark place. A dark place that talks about things that are wrong and hopefully start talks on how to fix it. If you have not read the first two books in this trilogy, (Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods) please go check them out as soon as possible.

Greg’s Thoughts

This book hit home pretty hard at the end of it. The terrible events that took place makes you think about what is going on today. The characters are all fantastic. The audio book is so much fun with the full cast of characters. I am glad that I got to read not only a great story, but a story that made me think about my place and the people around me. The Interviewer not being in this one hurt this book for me. He was missed in so many ways and I wish he had still been in. While I did enjoy this book, overall Waking Gods had to be my favorite in this trilogy. Please go send Sylvain some love and check out these books.

Rating:

8-really liked it

Dani’s 2¢

There was an additional character in this book, Katherine, that I honestly wasn’t too crazy about. She was kind of overly dramatic in a weird way and I felt like we never got an explanation for why she is the way she is even though there were a few hints dropped like there was going to be a major reveal about her.

I wondered how this third book could possibly up the stakes that its predecessor laid out. And honestly, the stakes were not that same level of epic “oh shit” that was in book two but it did hit a lot closer to home. This is probably the best titled book in the series as it is just so incredibly fitting. Citizens of Earth have made contact with aliens and learned their history in relation to those aliens but we are still imperfect beings, still only human.

Rating:

9-loved it!

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