Only Human

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Jun 2018

Member Reviews

Only Human (Themis Files, #3) by Sylvain Neuvel: Back on Earth, the team discovers the world has drastically changed after accepting the presence of extraterrestrials. When shocking secrets come to light, Only Human will keep you on your toes and reading far into the night with one twist after another. (4 Stars)
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3.5~ stars

Overall I love the series, but I enjoyed the first two books more. After the invasion in the last book I expected more giant robot interactions/fighting and alien to human communication. Instead there was politics and morality which was kinda a bummer. The message the author was trying to push was a little heavy-handed. The conclusion was neatly and unsatisfactorily wrapped up.
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Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this title. While I absolutely loved this series, this book lost me a little. Too much focus on family drama than the actual robots. Was still a good read, just not my favorite one in the series...
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The first person narrative and interview / journals style is always hard to work in.  If the characters are interesting and you want to hear them talk all day, it's great!  But if all the ones you liked in the series were systematically replaced with ones you want to punch in the face, then it's a rough go.  I found a lot of the earth part really preachy and the alien part underdeveloped.  Together this just made a disappointing end to the series.
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the first in the trilogy remains my favorite, but this was stellar. they've all come so far and so much has happened and happens again and the structure and pacing are still amazingly well done. this is a really excellent series. highly recommended to those who like science-y science fiction. plus giant robots.
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The Themis Files has been a series that is really out of my comfort zone in a number of ways, but really just worked. This trilogy is written in a series of interviews and journal entries, similar to The Illuminae Files, but based in the nearer future and (mostly) on earth. The first two books of the Themis Files completely blew my mind and I loved every second of them! I was eager to get Only Human, but it actually took me quite a long time to get through it and is a bit different than the first two installments.

Like the first two, this book follows Rose Franklin and Vincent Couture. Unlike the first two books, Eva is a main character in this and she's also nearly an adult, as it takes place a decade after Waking Gods. After spending ten years on an alien planet, Vincent, Rose, and Eva land back on earth - Eva against her will. Having been raised primarily off Earth, it's no wonder that Eva did not have much desire to return, but daddy knows best so back she went.

I found myself struggling with all the characters in this book more so that in the others. Eva was basically a new character and, while she was definitely a strong female character, which I like, she was also a whiny teenager, which I did not. Her rebellious nature caused issues for everyone and, although I understood her feelings, I found myself becoming very frustrated with her as a character. Similarly, while I understood Vincent's decisions as a parent, there were moments that I would have liked to knock him over the head with something. Still, he remains my favorite character in this series. As always, I love his attitude and snark. Rose was just Rose for me, but I've never been particularly fond of her.

Sadly, my favorite part of the first two books was largely missing from Only Human. The conspiracy aspect is all but gone and instead this book focuses on various countries trying to outmaneuver each other and steal each others' robots. Although there is still some action in this book, it's much more spread out than in previous books. There also wasn't any big twist that I've come to expect from Neuvel. Simply put, it didn't keep me on the edge of my seat like Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods.

One thing I did greatly enjoy was the interactions between the main characters and the alien species they lived with! I liked learning more about their government and moral code. I also appreciated the social commentary on racism and the us vs. them mentality.

Only Human is a good ending to a fantastic series. It's without question the weakest of the three books and I wish it had packed more of a punch, but at the end of the day I'm happy with it. This series has conspiracy, action, and aliens and I am definitely glad I read it!

Actual rating: 3.5 stars
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Full review forthcoming.................................................................................................................................................................
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I keep hoping that Neuvel will pull through at the end; he began the "Themis Files" trilogy with such an interesting and compelling first fifty pages that to be denied a strong final installment was ultimately disappointing for me. For readers who loved the first two books in this series, however, "Only Human" will not disappoint—in tone and style it is perfectly consistent with the larger body of work. If you are like me, however, and hunger and thirst after description, you will be denied that here; "Only Human," like its predecessors, is entirely, 100% dialogue. There is no description whatsoever here, and that is a stylistic decision which I can respect, but I must honestly admit does nothing for me. Without that description, the use of em dashes instead of quotation marks clutters up the page and obscures, rather than clarifies, speaker attribution. Neuvel is clearly aligning himself with English-speaking writers such as James Joyce by utilizing the dashes (and a French friend once told me it's common practice in French authorial practice), but in doing so, he is also deliberately alienating certain readers. Joyce was up-front about the artistic purposes of obscuration, but in my opinion, it's not a good fit for snappy, modernist science fiction. Or at least, I haven't run across an author who's used dashed dialogue in such a way as to add, rather than detract from my enjoyment of snappy, modernist science fiction. I'm still waiting for an author to change my mind, I guess I'd say.
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What happened? The first two books worked well enough for me, but this one left me with all kinds of questions that don't have answers. Did I miss something? I'm not sorry I read it, but I'm sad about the ending and the closure that I don't feel like I got.

My copy came from Net Galley. My thoughts and opinions are my own. This review is left of my own free volition.
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Thank you to the publisher, Del Rey Books, and Netgalley for the free e-copy of Only Human (Themis Files #3). All opinions expressed below are my own.

Only Human is the third and final book in the Themis Files trilogy by Sylvain Nuevel. In Only Human, it is 10 years after the conclusion of Waking Gods (book 2) and Themis is transported back to Earth, with Rose, Vincent, and Kara in tow. Following Themis' departure, Earth is now in shambles and on the brink of nuclear world war. In Only Human, we have flashbacks to the group's time on an alien planet with politics quite different than those on Earth alternating with present day chapters.

So, for a little background, I read Sleeping Giants (book 1) and Waking Gods (book 2) via audiobooks. I don't always love audiobooks, but these books work perfectly in that format due to the interview style. I received an advanced copy of book 3 via netgalley and thus read it on my e-reader. I didn't enjoy book 3 as much as the earlier books, but wonder if that also has to do with the format. 

I often feel a bit underwhelmed reading the conclusions of trilogies. I feel like there is so much action and storylines to wrap up and the book can feel like a waste. I don't totally feel that way with Only Human, but do admit that I didn't find it as compelling as the earlier books (which were 4 star reads for me). I found myself having to push myself to finish Only Human - there is less action and more theory being presented in this one and it was hard for me personally.

I highly recommend the Themis Files series and would rate the entire series as 4 star. I liked the interview/diary format and would strongly recommend listening to these as audiobooks. The narrators do an amazing job! When looking at Only Human individually, I'd rate it 3 stars. Its an okay conclusion, but many of the elements that caused me to love the first two books (sense of mystery/unknown and all the action) were simply not as strong in book 3.
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Only Human is the third and final book in the Themis Files Trilogy by Sylvain Neuvel. The first book, Sleeping Giants, has been on my Kindle and on my TBR for entirely too long, so when I found myself with access to Only Human, I was sufficiently motivated to read all three, back to back. 

As I find is frequently the case for me when reading a trilogy, the first installment was interesting enough to read the second, the second was better and left me no choice but to read the third, and the third was not exactly what I had in mind. 

The premise of the books is thus: a little girl accidentally falls into a large metal hand that has been buried for millennia, left behind by an advanced alien species that had visited, leaving behind a few of their own who had mixed with the early developing human species. Years later, that little girl would become a scientist tasked with finding the rest of the parts to go with the large metal hand (parts that would make up a robot designed on an alien planet), and to discover why it was left behind. The outcome of that mission will change Earth and its residents in ways no one could have fully imagined.

Sounds intriguing, right? Conceptually, it definitely is. However, I had issues with the approach. First, the story is told via chapters that are entirely discussion (with minimal clarification as to who is actually talking) and chapters that are written in journal or report form. The chapters written entirely in dialogue grew increasingly frustrating for me. Sometimes the different speakers dialogue would be differentiated by italics or angle brackets, but not always. And you still had to figure out who was saying what. Irritating.

The characters’ behavior was relatively predictable. Character development seemed to fall by the wayside in the third book, and while I did like a few characters in the series – namely Rose and Kara – I didn’t feel connected to their experiences. The situations they found themselves in were often devastating, stressful, heart-wrenching, and even wondrous. But I never felt any of those things. I didn’t like Vincent or Eva one bit.

Finally, while I believe the author and I are very like-minded in terms of our morals, ethics, and political beliefs, the message in the last book was so blatant it annoyed even me – even though I agree with what he was saying! When it comes to overarching messages, subtlety is more effective in my opinion. 

Ultimately, the concept was unique and compelling, there were some really interesting developments throughout the story, but the series just felt…thin. Still, it’s a series I’ll remember. Clearly, there is an audience for this trilogy, I’m just not it.
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A decent ending to the series. Eva, Rose, and Vincent manage to return to Earth on Themis. But in the ten years since the left, things have gone downhill. The USA has managed to activate and crew Lapetus which they use to bully the world. Now Themis is in Russian hands and everyone is looking for a confrontation. Plus the concentration camps for various degrees of people of various degrees of alien heritage sends Rose into a panic. Will the world implode? Will aliens return as friends this time? And just what effect did Eva and company have on the alien world? Read and find out!
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A great ending to a great series. Sylvain Neuvel is a writer to keep your eye on. This last installment is full of action, full of surprises, and just a heck of an entertaining read. I love the fact that Neuvel isn't afraid to make ANY character expendable. His writing is sharp, his characters are well-rounded and relatable, and the story is magnificent. A must read.
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A fitting end to a great series. I waited to read this until publication because the audio editions turned out to be SO GOOD. I'd recommend this series on audio over the print honestly. I so feel like book 1, Sleeping Giants, was the strongest of the trilogy, but I don't say that to take away from my enjoyment of books 2 and 3. They were all engaging and refreshing.
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This series ended up being so much more vast than I anticipated going in. It’s full of action, twists and turns, and moral dilemma. Neuvel is not afraid to go there, and no character is safe. This conclusion was no exception. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want more of this world but this last novel did wrap things up well and if this is my last glimpse of it I can Iive with that. If you’re looking for a solid sci-fi, first contact story that gets better with each novel look no further!
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THis series was interesting to me. I thought the first book was only okay, I liked the second book better, and the third was by far my favorite. The characters and story develop and I really enjoyed this last installment.
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Unfortunately, I had to DNF this book. I have loved this series up until this point; I never minded the back and forth of the timeline, however in this book it was very difficult for me to follow along. I also didn't like where the characters were at both mentally and physically (being on the other planet and coming back was just now here I saw the story going). It was too slow for me. I would love to try to read it again in the future and push myself to finish it because I really do want to see how the stories end and where the characters end up. 
-Brittney Books
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I adored the first book in this installment, enjoyed the second, but may not have even finished this one if it wasn't to complete the trilogy.
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The robots have come.  The robots have left.  But when they left, they took some passengers with them back to their home planet.  Sylvain Neuvel picks up Only Human where Waking Gods drops off.  At the end of Waking Gods, a group of humans finds themselves trapped in Themis, heading back to the robots' home planet.  After a decade there, they are headed back to earth.

Only Human switches perspectives between the human's time on the alien planet, and their return to earth.  They find that in their absence, the U.S. managed to repair an alien robot and is using the technology to bring other countries under their control.  Russia, with the threat of nuclear weapons still viable, has held of the U.S., and it thrilled when Themis shows up in Russian territory.

The humans navigate the threat of impending war between the robots, try to navigate the racial and genetic territory of the robots' world, and navigate their increasingly complicated human relationships.  Neuvel brings together the themes and storylines from the first two novels in the trilogy, but this one was not as enjoyable to read as the others.  Light on action, heavy on the "messaging," it ends up sort of sterile and unengaging.  

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
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I loved the first book in this series, and generally appreciated the second one, but I found it hard to get into this trilogy-ender because by this point in the story, all my favorite characters were dead. I respect Sylvain Neuvel's ability to ignore familiar tropes and story-forms, and to send key characters off to surprising fates — this is a series where no one is safe, where death is arbitrary and abrupt, and where even if a key character go out, they don't necessarily make a noble and triumphant sacrifice. Sometimes people just die, and it's always shocking. But after they do in this case, the story gets a lot fuzzier and unfocused, because there's no strong point of view.

But the deeper I got into this novel, the more I realized how intentional it all felt, how the people who seemed like they were going to rescue everyone had to die in order for the story to escalate to the point it eventually reaches. Given the political era we're living in, and the current news about immigrant-seekers having their children taken at the American border and put in cages, the things that take place in this book seem a lot more plausible than they might have a few years ago. The atrocities scared, confused people permit from their government in this novel seem very familiar. And out of a sense of complete moral chaos comes an ending that really surprised me, particularly since in some ways it's so grim to a human sensibility, while so cheerful and upbeat to an alien sensibility. I didn't adore this book the way I did the first one, but it kept me guessing and it kept me absorbed, and I always do respect that in a novel.
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