Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel
House Publishing Group: 5/1/18
eBook review copy; 352 pages
Themis Files Series #3
Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel is the recommended third book in
the Themis series. This is not a stand-alone novel and the three
book series has to be read in the order they are written.
Since this is the last book in the series, I don't want to give away
too much of the plot. Basically a giant robot was found buried in
pieces around the Earth. It is put together and we are trying to
master the technology, when more fully operational robots are sent
to Earth and begin attacking. The attack is stopped, but all the
robots, including Themis, the robot that was put together here,
disappear from Earth. The human crew inside Themis, Dr. Rose
Franklin, linguist Vincent Couture, his 10-year-old daughter Eve
Reyes, and Gen. Eugene Govender, are stranded on the robots home
planet, Esat Ekt. After being stranded on Esat Ekt for nine years,
they return back to Earth, but the geo-political climate has
changed. The group lands in Russia, become prisoners, and discover
that America and Russia are battling for the supreme control of the
planet. Those in charge seem to be suffering from some kind of
collective insanity and rule by violence and fear, including vast
numbers of people sent to work camps and internment camps.
As in the previous two books, the story unfolds using interviews,
diary entries, mission logs, and covert recordings. The narrative
jumps back and forth between the time spent on Esat Ekt and after
the group returns to Earth. Most of the main characters were already
fully fleshed out in the first two books and are further developed
here, while new characters are a bit lacking in development. Russian
intelligence officer Katherine Lebedev comes across as an
unrealistic cartoonish caricature especially with the "jokey"
dialogue she takes part in. There isn't a lot of in-depth
worldbuilding on Esat Ekt, and what is presented doesn't seem alien.
The political climate on Earth is examined, but
Taken as a whole I'd
give the series 4 stars, but, for me, this was a weak ending. I'm
not entirely thrilled with Neuval's choice to make the plot so
political. I get it; the current polarized political climate is
disturbing. For me, however, all this did was make the presentation a
bit too preachy in this final installment of the series and I didn't
get as much of the science fiction, and robots, I craved.
Additionally, I can't help it, but I missed the unnamed narrator from
the first two books.
My review copy was courtesy of the Random
House Publishing Group.