Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel


The wait is finally over and the third and final book in the Themis Files hit shelves. I’ve told this story before, but I’ll do it again. I met Sylvain Neuvel when he was promoting his first book Sleeping Giants at ECCC a few years ago. The book hadn’t launched yet so his publisher was passing out arcs. I still have mine, up on a shelf, signed and I never read it. I waited until I could buy it on audible. Why? Oh because on audible, it’s a full cast.

Neuvel approaches writing from a fresh perspective. I think he does well what few of succeeded at before him. The whole of these books are told through interviews, and audio recordings, journals, and letters. By the third book, he’s mastered this skill and Neuvel succeeds in pushing his writing into something I can only describe as next level.

More than nine years have passed since we last got to be with this full cast of characters. There are new ones and old ones and some you may have forgotten about. We get to see what life was like on the alien planet, as well as what has happened to earth while they were away. The book never goes where I think it will and every time I’m left feeling a little surprised. In fact, I read this book twice, back to back. Which is something I never do. It held up the second time (like I ever doubted it).

The thing this book did better than the others its timely social comentary. There’s an undercurrent and we see it on both the alien side and the human side. There are politics in the world and universe and Neuvel writes them well.

“We’re talking about human beings making a conscious effort…to be ignorant. Willfully stupid. They’re proud of it. They take pride in idiocy. There’s not even an attempt to rationalize things anymore….Our entire race is trying to lobotomize itself.”

This whole series is amazing and worth reading. It has dang near anything you can imagine. Giant robots, aliens, action, action, did I mention action? Love, politics, mystery. It makes you think from beginning to the very end. Every time I read these books, I take something new away. I have a feeling these three will stand the test of time. We’ll be talking about them for years and years to come.

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