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Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Only Human by Sylvain NeuvelOnly Human by Sylvain Neuvel
Published by Random House Publishing Group on May 1st 2018
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 352
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It’s ironic, in a really sad way. There’s more closeness here, more love and acceptance, than anywhere else. White, black, brown, Christian, Muslim, all brought together by the greatest injustice of all.

 

This has been such a fantastic series. I think Waking Gods will forever be my favourite, but there’s many great things I can say about this final installment.

While I felt the action was slightly toned down here (though still plenty of thrills), Only Human makes up for it with its timely social commentary. Picking up nine years after the events of the previous book, we learn of the impact the giant alien robots have had on the world. Fear, paranoia and wilful ignorance rule our planet as anyone who is considered “different” is placed into work camps, or murdered.

“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.”

 

The interview transcripts and diary entries lead the story once again. Along with some thrilling action and fascinating science, this keeps the book zipping along at a breakneck pace. I was turning the pages like crazy, my eyes darting from one paragraph to the next in my desperate need to discover how it all ends.

Only Human is packed full of goods. It’s fast-paced action, thematically dark and sad, but with plenty of darkly comic parts and lots of Vincent being a lovable goofball. Race and racism are explored, as is Islamophobia. I also really enjoyed the discussions on patriotism and nationalism, especially how “love” for one’s country is challenged. Is it love? Neuvel ponders. Or is it pride?

The novel’s weakest point was, for me, Katherine Lebedev. She feels like a caricature – a strange, campy individual who is overly theatrical and unbelievable. While many of Neuvel’s characters seem to have somewhat jaunty voices, Katherine felt too much. It was hard to convince myself she could be a real person.

But my complaints are minor. Only Human was an extremely enjoyable reading experience and a near-perfect conclusion to one of my favourite series of recent years.

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

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