Friday, June 15, 2018

Book Review: Only Human

Title: Only Human
Series: Themis Files #3
Author: Sylvain Nuevel
Genre: Science Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars 

Sylvain Neuvel answers the question (we all must have), what would happen if giant robots came to Earth? The inevitable science fiction answer is: it wouldn't go well for us. 
This last book in the Themis Files trilogy is as solid as the first two in the series; if a bit different. 
In fact each book of this series felt like it was about something different: 
- Book 1: Sleeping Giant: The intrigue and wonder of finding robot parts hidden around the world. It appeals to our curiosity and obsession that maybe we did not organically evolve on Earth. 

- Book 2: Waking Gods: The best way to describe this one is to say: the visit. The inevitable occurrence of the aliens coming back to Earth to see what we've done with their shiny robot and how our society has functioned. This is all out war with robots. So while it's sad it's also really fun. 

- Book 3: Only Human: Focuses on politics and fallout of having the robots be discovered. Most of this book is obsessed with the idea of where humans belong in the grand scheme of things and if 'interference' by other societies into existing ones is appropriate. And while this takes place on the larger planetary scale you can easily attribute it to Afghanistan, Syria and other places where 'interference' happens on Earth today which is meant to help the citizens of the area but perhaps doesn't always have the desired outcome we all wish for. 

Of the three books in the trilogy I enjoyed the second one (which is odd as it doesn't suffer at all from middle book syndrome) the most. 
Only Human is still well worthy of a 5-star rating; however, for those hoping for more epic robot battles or alien stand-offs they may be a little disappointed. That's not to say that nothing happens; just that it's not nearly as aggressive as book 2's conflicts. 

At the end of the day Only Human is really about two things:
1) People. How different people cope, adapt, and approach struggles of both emotional, physical and spiritual nature. It also spends a lot of talking about belief systems or the ideas of beliefs and their importance in the grand scheme of politics and planetary (or national) decisions. 
2) Human Fear. There is probably nothing more powerful than fear in a human being's mind. Fear will convince people: to do horrific things, to make unconventional or illogical decisions, and (mostly importantly) it convinces humans to treat one another like diseases, pests or monsters that need to be restricted, held captive or even killed. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Sylvain Neuvel has skyrocketed to be among an elite list of Canadian authors that are amazing at science fiction or dystopian stories. That elite list includes: Margaret Atwood, Robert J. Sawyer, William Gibson and Timothy J Anderson to name a few. 

I truly hope Neuvel has a long and successful career ahead of him. I will be waiting on the edge of my seat for his next brilliant read and happily revisit my giant robot buddies in the meantime. 

1 comment:

Leonore Winterer said...

I have this trilogy on my to read list since you did a review of one of them...I think the second one? a while back. It sounds like the kind of scifi that's not just lasers and warp drive, but really something to think about too, and I so enjoy those.