Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review: Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Svlvain Neuvel

Firstly, thanks to Penguin Random House for this review copy <3



Date Read: February 2 -7 2018
Date Released: May 1st 2018
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Science fiction
My Rating:

Synopsis:
"In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other."

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DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW IF YOU HAVE NOT READ WAKING GODS. I REPEAT DO NOT. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS FOR WAKING GODS. 

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Ok so this is going to turn into a mess of a review because I don’t even know how to talk about my feelings properly.

From a 10 year-old girl falling into a hole and discovering a giant robotic hand, to this, I can’t believe we’ve come full circle and the Themis Files are over. There’s this bittersweet feeling left in me because my gosh does this series fly and I feel like I’ve watched these characters grow old while I’m left in the past and it hurts. But it’s also immensely satisfying to see them come so far. And let me tell you Only Human was a damn perfect ending.

There’s a significant time jump again from the end of Waking Gods to when Only Human starts and I admit I kind of did a double take when I realised how old Vincent is. (And Rose and Eva too of course but my gosh Vincent.) He’s a really stand out character to me because I remember not liking his young-self much at the beginning of Sleeping Giants and he’s now my fav; Vincent has changed so much and to see that he’s also aged so much felt surreal – like he wasn’t much older than me in Sleeping Giants?! Omg. All he wants to do is protect Eva and he’s honestly doing the best he can. I have so much respect for him. Fatherhood was just shoved on him, but he took it in stride and he tries so hard – whether he succeeds is a different story (I personally think he does). Love love LOVE the way Neuvel has developed his character, there is such growth from Sleeping Giants but he’s still the same Vincent who obsesses over details (the linguist in him). His heart has expanded a tonne. You know what really hurts though? Knowing that Vincent will always be older than Kara… and one day Eva will be too. I just started crying when I realised that.

Eva’s grown up into an independent young woman with very strong opinions. She’s definitely rebellious and has completely different views to Vincent. She may not always be right (I thought she had a na├»ve and skewed perspective of the world) but nobody can blame her given her dysfunctional upbringing and what she’s had to endure. There’s the world she was born in and the world where she’s grown up and spent most of her life so it’s no surprise where her loyalties lie. For her there’s only ever one home. She really embodies the rebellious teen image haha.

While Rose faced a lot of internal conflict in Waking Gods, she’s become a constant in Only Human. She’s finally settled into her own skin and accepted who she is. Throughout Only Human I found her to be the voice of reason like she was back in Sleeping Giants. It felt grounding to finally have level-headed Rose back as I felt like she was the one who held not only the gang together, but the story itself. The way Neuvel wrote her character was seriously amazing. Rose had the perfect balance of a brilliant mind that was ethical and moral. She’s juxtaposed against some pretty intense characters – Alyssa who we’ve witnessed in the previous books as purely research driven and will do anything to get the scientific results; new character Katherine who works for Russian intelligence and seems like a regular manipulating, somewhat sadistic human being who only listens to the top. Rose shows that humans can still be humane, putting people before science, that a person can still be manipulated by superiors but end up doing the right thing.

There is no villain in Only Human, or in the series overall really, but in this last book it’s really about humanity being pitted against one another. I think that’s what makes the Themis Files so fascinating and different to me – Neuvel tackles current issues of race and extends that to our species and what does it mean if human isn’t human? What makes us human? What is humanity? There is no one answer but I think Neuvel is able to portray differences of humans versus aliens to say, collectively this is what it means to be human.

I would have loved more world-building on Esat Ekt but I can understand why Neuvel didn’t concentrate on this – this series has always been about the people and their thoughts/feelings. The glimpses we did get of Esat Ekt through the characters’ journal entries was definitely interesting, kudos to Neuvel to creating a planet similar to Earth but not the same.

I still can’t believe this trilogy is over. Does humanity come out on top? Or do we end up decimating each other using alien technology at no fault but our own? You really need to read this finale to find out.

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