Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

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“I hate this world. People are small. They’re ignorant, and they’re happy to stay that way. They make an effort to. They’ll spend time and energy finding ways not to learn things just to feel comfortable with their beliefs.”

The third novel in the Themis Files trilogy, Only Human picks up ten years after the events of Waking Gods, and brings the series to a conclusion. In the first novel, Sleeping Giants we learned of Rose discovering a giant metal hand as a child, which over the years led to more discoveries of metal parts that eventually resulted in the assembly of a giant robot. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin was a key figure in bringing the robot to life, and along with linguist, Vincent Couture, pilot, Kara Resnik, and an unnamed, mysterious interviewer, she helped protect Earth from an alien invasion in Waking Gods.  Now, after ten years on an alien planet, she returns to a home in chaos. While attempting to make sense of what has occurred, she must also figure out a way forward. 

“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.”

As a big fan of the series, I was really excited to read this final instalment. Sleeping Giants felt different and new in its format, and Waking Gods was a complete page-turner, full of intrigue and action that was wonderfully entertaining. Only Human is fine, but for me it was quite disappointing and the weakest of the trio. I like the idea of the story and understand what the author was going for, but as an overall reading experience it was a bit dull. I found this to be as a result of three main reasons. For one, the interview/recording format does not work as well this time around, perhaps because within the context of this particular story it feels somewhat awkward at times. Secondly, there is a lot of dialogue, which drags and feels long-winded. And thirdly, the three main characters in this novel, along with their dynamic, are not very interesting and I found myself not caring whatsoever. Sounds harsh, I know, and I am disappointed that it did not work for me. However, I don’t think it is a bad book by any means. It is an overall entertaining science-fiction series, and one I would still recommend. And hopefully you appreciate the conclusion more than I did. 🙂

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