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Themis Files #3

Only Human

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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.

9 pages, Audible Audio

First published May 1, 2018

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About the author

Sylvain Neuvel

22 books5,038 followers
Sylvain Neuvel dropped out of high school at age 15. Along the way, he has been a journalist, worked in soil decontamination, sold ice cream in California, and peddled furniture across Canada. He received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Chicago. He taught linguistics in India, and worked as a software engineer in Montreal. He is also a certified translator, though he wishes he were an astronaut. He likes to tinker, dabbles in robotics and is somewhat obsessed with Halloween. He absolutely loves toys; his girlfriend would have him believe that he has too many, so he writes about aliens and giant robots as a blatant excuse to build action figures (for his son, of course).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,510 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,921 reviews290k followers
May 2, 2018
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.

4 1/2 stars. 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.

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Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
525 reviews56.7k followers
June 6, 2018
I hadn't been this excited about the last book in a series in a while and... meh.

There were some interesting parts, I was really curious to learn more about the aliens and I appreciated some of the author's thoughts but the dialogues felt too forced and really tried to be funny and sassy and it ended up a bit of a let down.

I still think it's a fun, fast-paced series but the ending didn't blow me away!
Profile Image for Petrik.
654 reviews39.9k followers
May 19, 2018
4.5/5 stars

A satisfying philosophical and thought-provoking conclusion to Themis Files trilogy.

The Themis Files trilogy began with Rose Franklin finding an arm of a giant robot, since then, the first and second book has been pretty focused on the mystery surrounding this robot. Neuvel took a different direction in Only Human and like the title said, this is a book that’s centered around the source of almost every problem in the world, humanity.

“I hate this world. People are small. They’re ignorant, and they’re happy to stay that way. They make an effort to. They’ll spend time and energy finding ways not to learn things just to feel comfortable with their beliefs.”

The story was told in two periods of time, juggling between the present timeline which is nine years after the events in the Waking Gods, while the other timeline is there to fill in the time gap. Neuvel concluded his trilogy by using these two timelines wonderfully in this short book. Although I didn’t expect the storytelling to go with this direction, I really can’t imagine a more satisfying conclusion for this trilogy. Dealing with a lot of racial and religious issues, this is a book that will make you really think, and yet at the same time, Neuvel never forget to put hope for the future and familial love in this small book.

“I can’t make the forest grow faster because I want it to. I can’t will it to grow. It takes time. I hoped it could happen during my lifetime, but I don’t think it can. All I can do is plant some seeds, take care of the seedlings, and hope someone else does it after I’m gone.”

There are tons of great lines like this in this book, reading this conclusion will definitely make you contemplate the situation of our world. There were an incredible amount of things talked about that I thought was very relatable and applicable to our society. For the past couple of days, Surabaya (a city in Indonesia) has been terrorized by suicide bombing (done by a family, how sick is that? No, I’m not joking, the suicide bombers was one family from their parents to their descendants) in churches, thinking they’re going to heaven by injuring and killing kids or adults who only wanted to pray; I found this next line to be very relatable to this situation.

“If you’re using bombs instead of words, that means you’re banking on people giving you what you want out of fear instead of reason. That’s never a good sign.”

Plus, the character’s personalities and developments were spectacular here. Contrary to my experience with the previous books, the epistolary format here really helps in giving realistic and distinctive voice to every character.

“We’re not heroes. No one is. Every movie we watch, every book we read, we see people who can solve every problem, face every danger all on their own. But in real life, Vincent, we just call the cops. That’s what I did.”

Unlike the previous two books, there aren’t a lot of giant robots fighting here, there is only one action sequence in this book and honestly, I’m happy with that. Why? The reason for this is that I thought of the actions in this trilogy to not reach its maximum potential. The only minor issue I have in this trilogy that’s still true here is because there weren’t a lot of vivid images formed in my head during my time of reading due to the epistolary format. For me, although this format offers a compelling dialogue and addictive storytelling, it sacrificed vivid images and action sequences because everything was told strictly through dialogues, files, and interviews. This is still slightly evident here but this is just a minor issue though, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of this book that much.

Only Human ended up being an incredibly satisfying conclusion, it’s definitely my favorite out of the trilogy. This trilogy also doesn't belong in the hard sci-fi genre and I don’t think anyone will have any difficulty diving into this series. I highly recommend this trilogy to anyone who’s looking for a great sci-fi trilogy that keeps on getting better with each installment, eventually leading to a captivating and satisfying ending. I definitely will be waiting for Neuvel’s next book and see where he goes from here.

Series review:

Sleeping Giants: 3/5 stars
Waking Gods: 4/5 stars
Only Human: 4.5/5 stars

Themis Files trilogy: 11.5/15 stars

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for High Lady of The Night Court.
135 reviews5,031 followers
February 25, 2019
"The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of an illimitable ocean of inexplicability."

Normally, I wouldn't be writing this review because most of the things I have to say about the series are usually covered in my first review, but right now I'm feeling so much emotion the only two options are to either scream for the better part of an hour or write this review, so here we are.

The only other explanation for writing the review for this book is that it’s… beautiful. It's ironic, really, because when I first saw that this series was written in interviews and diaries I thought that I would avoid all the heartbreak that comes along with saying goodbye to these characters because I probably wouldn’t get attached to them, now I realise that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everything happened fast, I practically flew through this book, but now that it’s over I wish I’d read it slower to cherish every moment with these people in this wonderful story. But there is no way I will ever forget everything I’ve just finished reading.

This story, these characters and the enchanting writing that comes along with them will stay with me forever. And to the people who have yet to read this book or series, I highly recommend it and just beware of the last file of this book before the epilogue because you need to be emotionally prepared for that one. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking all at once, and I think that is the most deadly combination there is.

Over the span of these three books, we go from putting together a sleeping giant to starting an internal war to a whole other alien planet, and the whole thing blend together seamlessly. The personality of each character carries through to every file and it will leave you breathless. These characters are perfect for this story and this story couldn’t have been narrated any better. The plot was mysterious and alluring while the overall story remained steady and emotional. The writing brought out the best in the story and it clearly accentuates every single moment which is amazing. The time skips, however short, will keep you at the edge of your seat because the anticipation of what will happen is constantly eating at you.

The story is woven very intricately, not in the sense that there were a million plot twists, but that each incident and each characters’ perspectives were placed together so perfectly at the right time. I love the fact that the author took the time to add so many details to the book even though the book would still be great even without them, but those extra details are the cherry on top of a very intriguing cake.

The characters were each amazing in their own unique way. Rose, Vincent, Eva, Kara, Mr.Burns, the Interviewer are characters that will always have a place in my heart. I say ‘are’ because to me these characters will live on forever. I love this series beyond words and it has earned its spot on my favorites list. All three of these books get 5 stars from me and I highly recommend them.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,878 reviews22.6k followers
March 9, 2020
4.5 stars. The giant robots are back!! Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Only Human wraps up Sylvain Neuvel’s excellent THEMIS FILES science fiction trilogy with some surprising plot turns. *Expect some spoilers for the first two books, Sleeping Giants and Waking Gods*

At the end of Waking Gods, the robot called Themis was suddenly transported back home to her original planet by remote command of her alien makers, accidentally carrying along four people who happened to be inside of her: Vincent Couture, the only human capable of piloting Themis; his 10 year old daughter Eva; Dr. Rose Franklin, the brilliant and compassionate scientist who first discovered the immense, buried hand of Themis as a child; and General Eugene Govender, commander of the newly formed Earth Defense Corps. After nine years on the planet Esat Ekt, Vincent, Eva and Rose, together with one of the natives of Esat Ekt, commandeer Themis and travel back to Earth.

They land in Estonia, where the Russian government (which controls Estonia again) is delighted to take possession of both the robot and them personally. In Waking Gods, Rose had disabled another of the giant robots that the aliens had sent to Earth, and it turns out that the U.S.A. has been ruthlessly using this other robot, called Lapetus, to take control of many other countries around the globe. (How the U.S. was able to solve the tricky robot piloting issue is disclosed later in the book.) Vincent, a Canadian, is not happy to learn that Canada is now subject to U.S. control. The Russians intend to use Themis, Vincent, Eva and Rose to combat the U.S. and Lapetus. It’s an understandable strategy, though their methodology for convincing their "guests" to go along with the plan ― personified by the veiled threats of Katherine Lebedev, a major in Russia’s intelligence agency who is assigned as the prisoners’ handler ― is decidedly unpleasant.

Meanwhile, in a panicked overreaction to the events that occurred in Waking Gods, most countries around the globe have created internment camps for people whose genetic makeup includes more than a certain percentage of alien DNA … and even executing those with the highest levels. Our world is devolving into chaos and governmental oppression, with rampant mistrust. It’s not a happy or peaceful world to which Rose, Vincent and Eva have returned.

Neuvel includes a good amount of political and social commentary in Only Human. It occasionally gets a little clunky, but there are some incisive if rather pessimistic insights into human nature and our behavior when stressed … and the massive alien-caused deaths in Waking Gods have led to unprecedented levels of worldwide fear and uncertainty.

Only Human is a dual timeline novel: the current timeline describes what occurs after Rose, Vincent and Eva return to Earth, interspersed with flashback chapters that follow their lives during their nine years on Esat Ekt. I was delighted to see Sylvain Neuvel take on the challenge of creating an alien culture but, partly because Neuvel is still following the same file-based narrative structure as the first two books, we only get a limited look at the aliens’ world and its people. It’s mostly seen indirectly, through the discussions and journals of the four humans who are involuntarily being held there. The aliens’ world of Esat Ekt is, in many ways, a familiar one despite their vast technological superiority and unswerving dedication to non-interference with other cultures. But like humans, they also have political conspiring, large portions of the population who are dispossessed because of their race … and even soup kitchens. I would have liked to have sensed more alien-ness in their society, but it was interesting to compare and contrast the flaws in their world with those in ours.

Katherine Lebedev, the military officer in charge of Rose, Vincent and Eva during their time in Russia, is a quirky combination of threats and faux-friendly chirpiness who never quite feels real. As a handler, she was a distinctly unsatisfactory replacement for the nameless handler who was such an impressively dominant force in Sleeping Giants. However, the relationship between Vincent and his now nineteen year old daughter Eva makes up for this with its painful realism. Neuvel delves into the chaotic web of love, misunderstanding, anger and concern that can make up a relationship between parents and children … especially rebellious teenagers.

Only Human is an enjoyable, thoughtfully written conclusion to the THEMIS FILES trilogy. It’s one of my favorite recent science fiction series, deftly combining hard science with interesting characters and social commentary, not to mention the excitement of giant robot deathmatches. Overall I give it an enthusiastic recommendation!

I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher and NetGalley. Thank you!!

Initial post: THERE'S A DESCRIPTION AND A COVER! *flails* How soon can I get my hands on this??

ETA: The answer is: NOW. I have a copy from NetGalley in my hands now! *sweeps other books off the table*
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
673 reviews1,028 followers
February 6, 2019
"We're a bunch of babies, a few billion of them, all scared to death. We're going to kill ourselves if we're left to our own devices."

Ok, I have't loved this trilogy as much as I'd hoped. I definitely think book 2 was my favourite - so much happened, with so many twists. In comparison in book 3, NOTHING HAPPENED. It's just so much back and forth.
It didn't help that one of my faves wasn't in it. DON'T WORRY I WON'T SAY WHO.
Eva is just a brat. I couldn't stand her, and there is no other way to describe her. She is an absolute bitch to her dad and I hated it.
I'd blame the writing style, but I thought I'd gotten used to the different types of writing (interviews, diary entries etc.)
I just found it all a bit tedious, I didn't like the characters enough (bar Rose and Vincent) and the storyline didn't grab me enough this time.

3 stars for a bit of entertainment, and a good round up of the trilogy.

"Never be sorry about things you have no control over. You'll just give yourself ulcers."
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,687 followers
September 21, 2018
I’m kinda lukewarm on the final installment of this trilogy. And, in fact, while the concept of the whole trilogy has been pretty cool, I feel like ever since the first 100 pages or so of the first book, it has been kind of trending down hill. I wouldn’t say that it is bad, per se, and I had no problem staying interested through the finish. But, when I was done I was just kinda “meh”.

With Only Human, my feeling was that the author was working toward the point, or the main moral of the story, at the expense of the actual storyline itself. I hope this makes sense! Basically, he knew what he wanted the reader to get out of the story so he forced plot points to get there. I have sat down to try an write before and it is a tough thing to get around smoothly – knowing something you want the reader to find out in the end and not give away too much too soon through convenient events or lazily fleshed out scenarios. I just didn’t feel the author got all the way there.

Character wise, I was happy to find out what happened to everyone after the cliffhanger of the last novel. But, by the end, I was definitely done with them. Kind of sad as sometimes you hope that you will look back fondly on characters you spent a trilogy with, but I feel like I have spent all the time I needed to with this crew.

So, I know it sounds like I am very down on the ending of the trilogy. I can say that I am not disappointed that I read it and there were some interesting events in the final book. While it was, in my opinion, the weakest of the trilogy, the trilogy as a whole was interesting and worth giving a go as long as you don’t mind the risk that the end of it may not be as fulfilling as you hope.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,471 reviews19.1k followers
May 22, 2018
This one wasn’t quite as thrilling or action packed as the first two books in the series, but I still loved it so much. If y’all like SciFi and haven’t read this series yet, WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING?????
27 reviews2 followers
May 3, 2018
I finished Only Human a day after it came out and have to say I'm quite disappointed with the book. I've read all three of the series (of course), and I truly liked the first two, but I would not recommend anyone else to waste money on this volume. Better leave it at two, even if it's a cliffhanger.

The setup in book one and two was great. They were well organized and I tore through them in a day each at work. I pre-ordered Only Human immediately after finishing the first and the second book. Only Human, however, turned out to be a great and uninspired mess. It turned its back on all the great first-contact themes the previous volumes promised and turned into a long moral rant that ended in a somewhat deus-ex-machina climax.

Here are some of the issues I have with this last installment:

The main characters. They deteriorated heavily after the last (second) book. There's Rose, who basically turned into a whiny emo and blamed everything on herself but at the same time on everyone else too, and her solution to the whole plot was basically 'you aliens did this, you have to solve it'. There's no theme or character growth or anything that connects this book's Rose with the other two volumes. Basically, in her view, it's all the aliens' fault, and while that might theoretically be true, the resolution of the series was very anti-climactic and disappointing.

Then there's Eva, who's just an insufferable brat, and not at all strong like Kara. All she does, too, is whine and do nothing to support the plot. In the second book, when the reader is introduced to Eva, it seems as if she has a huge part to play, and her character is built up very well, with the mystery surrounding her visions and so on, and even the ending of the book promises in some way that the next one will be even better and Eva will be very important. But she isn't. She's ignorant, she's angry, and she's quite a pest. She is not likeable at all, and I didn't find her very intelligent either.

I don't have much to say about Vincent.

The other big issue is that there was hardly any plot and the resolution of this pseudo-plot was so far from anything the series promised it was sad to see it. It reads very much as if Sylvain Neuvel simply ran out of things to say and original content to put into this book. I really really enjoyed the first two, because there was life to them, and mystery, and everything made inherent sense (well not everything, but you get what I mean), but in this last installment Neuvel seems to have run completely out of steam. The themes are redundant and often whole conversations are repeated to put a more emo spin on them, and morals are discussed when there's no reason at all these characters should be thinking about such things. The first 20% of the book especially are essentially repetitions. First a scene from this character's view, then the exact same scene or event from another's, and nothing really happens. This, unfortunately, drags through the whole book, and nothing much happens throughout the rest of it.

I'm not sure what I expected, but I had high hopes considering the series had such a great great start. However, Only Human was a complete waste of paper and money.
Profile Image for Philip.
497 reviews661 followers
January 4, 2019
3.5ish stars.

After the cliffhanger ending of book #2, Waking Gods, I was expecting this book to pick up right after the last one ended. When I read the synopsis: "Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles," I was (completely justifiably) indignant that 10 years had apparently passed, side stepping that whole situation. Why end on a cliffhanger, then?! Luckily, that 10 year gap is given plenty of detail as the book's timeline alternates between those 10 years and the current timeline. Although, still, why end on a cliffhanger if you don't plan on coming immediately back to the cliff to resolve it?!

This is my least favorite of the three in the series, although I still enjoyed it. Lots of social commentary keep it relevant and thought-provoking. The ending is predictably sappy, although gratifyingly so? The last giant alien robot battle saves it from being kind of boring. Lots of action and daddy issues combine to make a satisfying final conflict. It's just too bad it took the entire book to get there, whereas Waking Gods was battle after battle of awesomeness.

The audio is good as always, particularly Charlie Anson's performance as Vincent Couture (he's British but puts on a very convincing Quebecois accent), and William Hope's as both Eugene Govender and Mr. Burns. But, yokits, what was up with Eva's narration? Where'd she pick up that awful Jersey accent all of a sudden?

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for Trina (Between Chapters).
852 reviews3,760 followers
June 8, 2018
3.5 stars. I will always LOOOOOVE this series, but this was my least favorite of the three.

Because this was the end of the trilogy ("for now," as Neuvel says in his acknowledgements) it definitely felt like an ending. And that made me realize that a large part of the appeal that the first two books had for me were their twisty endings that made me frantically wonder WHAT'S NEXT?! Without that, I didn't come out of this book with the frenzied excitement that I did with the others.

Additionally, some of my favorite characters were no longer around so this lacked the attachment I had before. And there was no longer the air of mystery surrounding Themis that had sucked me in from the start. We basically know everything at this point and it's just wrapping up how things might play out.

I listened to the audiobook and I definitely recommend this format if you're able to listen to them. The full cast is always impressive. However, with the characters we have in this book, I was not a fan of some of the accent and voicing choices, which always has an impact on my enjoyment of an audiobook.

So, this was a solid ending, a fun audio experience as always, but I just wasn't as into it.

Neuvel says he's working on other things but may one day return to this universe and I will most definitely be here waiting if he ever does!

Content warning: war, internment camps and racism (shown as bad), cancer.
Profile Image for Ahmed  Ejaz.
549 reviews324 followers
July 17, 2018
Reality doesn’t give a crap whether you pay attention to it or not. It’s still there.
FINALLY! I've finished this book. It took me more than a month. It was just my busy routine those days. Now I'm free. So..

I was expecting little bit more high. Like a ton of action scenes! But there were a handfull of those. This was my biggest disappointment. Anyway, we have to make peace with it.
So the plot goes like this:-
Themis, a robo-gaint, is called back to her home planet, , while having four main characters inside. They get to see the home planet of aliens.
They live there for nine years while on Earth U.S. is trying to conquer the whole world with another robo-gaint, Lepatus.
People here are just too stupid to realize they hate people who are exactly like them. Maybe that’s what bugs me. Stupidity. I hate it more than I hate evil.
=> Dr. Rose pointed out the most important thing here. If we, humans, have powerful weapons, we try to conquer each other. We want to rule over the people. So I think she did the best thing
=> The aliens have their own language which I think is complicated but good.
=> Eva was very annoying. But I think she was right to do so. She went through a lot of troubles in life. But Vincent was also right in his own way. He was worried about her safety. But she wanted to be independent.
=> Dr. Rose was the best one. Her POVs were the one I enjoyed reading the most.
=> That old man, Mr. Burns, was also the good character. I thought he was
=> If you have read the book, can you answer my question?

As a whole, the entire series is awesome. It's one of the best Sci-Fi I have read. Must give it a chance.
When trouble come, it is family that support you.

16 July 2018
Profile Image for Feyre.
102 reviews239 followers
May 24, 2018
“I can’t make the forest grow faster because I want it to. I can’t will it to grow. It takes time. I hoped it could happen during my lifetime, but i don’t think it can. All I can do is plant some seeds, take care of the seedlings, and hope someone else does it after I’m gone.”
― Sylvain Neuvel, Only Human


I think the third book suffered a bit in comparison to the first two, it was still entertaining enough for me to continue, but i honestly expected much more.
A bittersweet and kind of disappointing ending to one of my favorite series. :(
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,846 followers
February 18, 2018
The final book in the trilogy!

This one's a hard one to review only because it bucks expectations. Maybe only mine, but still.

Did I want answers and a big robot battle? Yes. Did I get answers and a big robot battle? Absolutely.

The direction of the storytelling will probably take you for a wild loop, however. It did for me. The cliffhanger had all my sights on the alien homeworld (or it's war-staging area) and I'm totally into the epistolary nature of these novels, so now I've got to reconcile myself to the fact that humanity is in WAY OVER ITS HEAD.

Derp. Fast forward another 10 years.

The aliens don't have their crap together. Haven't for a while. Oh, sure, they're technologically advanced and can still vaporize cities and teleport and do these nifty perfect atomic clones, but they're a pretty damn good mirror to our own messed-up selves. You know, US/Them crap about genetics. Purebloods and democracy skewed in favor of said Purebloods. Like I said, very familiar.

And our MCs live in this world for a decade, feeling the weight of the aliens' guilt and embarrassment until it all goes pear-shaped and we spend the rest of the novel back on Earth.

The characters really carry this novel, as they did the previous ones. Our fantastic rock-em-sock-em robot bash and the two battlers turned the scene into some really really tragic, heartwarming and rage-filled. The father/daughter dynamic was pretty brilliant.

I may have shed a few tears. The buildup was intense.

But the end? I really want to talk about the end but that's a spoiler too much. Suffice to say, I'm both conflicted and satisfied at the same time. Some pretty awesome humor and a lot of shame for being a member of this human race.

But then, what should we expect with a title that evokes a shrug? Oh, we're Only Human. Well, no excuses are going to cut this. You go, Rosa. :)

I'm already getting nostalgic. Action and pathos for the win. :)
Profile Image for Debbie.
686 reviews427 followers
May 23, 2021
A satisfying finale to the Themis Files!

Positives about this story:
1. Plot - A sci-fi story involving political struggles with an apocalyptic theme, we see humanity at its best, and at its worst! Once again, the story is told through interviews, diary entries and various recordings, as we are taken on a dual timeline to the planet Esat Ekt and back;

2. Characters - Those that I loved included Vincent Couture (what a guy!), Mr. Burns (I so enjoyed his stories!) and General Eugene Govender (gotta love his gruff, no-nonsense attitude), and those I loved to hate: Alyssa Papantoniou (so chilling) and Katherine Lebedev (hard-nosed in a flippant way);

3. Audiobook - this is a MUST listen! With a cast of 15 narrators, you get the sense of listening to a radio drama! The personalities are so distinctly genuine and emotionally realistic! My favorite narrator had to be William Hope (Mr. Burns/General Eugene). I was somewhat distracted by the obvious change of narrator for Eva, who went from having a Latino accent in Waking Gods (she was born and raised in Puerto Rico) to sounding like a Jersey Girl in this story.

You don't have to be a sci-fi fan to enjoy this story, but I do highly recommend listening to the audiobooks for this trilogy!
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews884 followers
September 11, 2018
I'm really happy with this. It was not a perfect book for me - neither were the other two - but I had fun.

I think the series would've been better if it wasn't written in interviews and files and stuff. I just loved the story but sometimes I couldn't empathize with the characters that much due to the writing style.

I'd still recommend this trilogy to everyone who likes stories about aliens. I had a really good time reading these books.
Profile Image for Iryna *Book and Sword*.
430 reviews680 followers
February 17, 2019
5/5 stars

Welcome to the family, new favorite trilogy and first favorite series of 2019. So far I've been having a wonderful reading year, and it's largely because of The Themis Files.

I also want to quickly mention The Humans by Matt Haig, which got me into the hugest sci-fi mood at the beginning of December last year - and I'm still riding that wave. Thank you.

Only Human got me a little bit worried because of its unusually (and so undeserved) low ratings, but I'm happy that I didn't let that scare or influence me. I can see people maybe wanting a bit more action out of this one, but Only Human delivers so much more than that.

All of the events in this book hit much too close to home (minus the giant robot of course), but racism, discrimination based on pettiest reasons, bigotry, governmental manipulations - if you aren't careful you might think that you are reading a very non-fiction book about events around the world. Because this is our reality. And it's scary.

Now imagine if you could only have a do-over. If you could have all the power in the world to fix it - what would you do? Our main characters hold that power in their own hands (feet too), but instead they choose to fight each other over personal reasons. They fight while the world watches and crumbles under their feet.

​Because this is who we are - we are selfish and ignorant humans. We are children in need of guidance - if this book does anything, is that it open your eyes to things you already knew, but tried so hard to ignore.

Only Human is absolutely brilliant. It pulls on emotional strings, it's believable and so easily connectable. It manages to focus on personal relationships and small things that matter on a scale of the world ending. Because the world ending is a very big deal, but what each and every one of us does on personal level while the world is ending, is also a very big deal.

initial reaction
To all of you who brought Only Human's rating so low - what the hell is wrong with you??
Just kidding, all opinions are valid . But seriously, this was so good!

August 25, 2019
“If you see something wrong with the world, fix it. But what if it’s the whole world that needs fixing?”

And thus ends one of the most interesting trilogies I ever read! I mean, when you complete a whole series in a week, it must mean something! I just couldn't put it down. Definitely a masterpiece!

Nevertheless, I must admit that this last book felt somewhat weaker compared to the others. If you've read book two, you know that it ends with a very intriguing cliffhanger; but I just didn't find it completely satisfactory the way the author decided to develop that particular event. In other words, and without spoilers, I felt like this book was anti-climatic. Not necessarily the very end, which was okay in my opinion (good but predictable), but just the events, the characters, and the setting of this one could have been a little bit more "wondrous". Overall, I would rate this whole series 4.5 stars. What a ride!

Profile Image for Holly.
1,391 reviews926 followers
July 13, 2018
This was such a disappointing ending for a series I really liked up until this point!!

In the first book we found giant alien robot pieces found around the world and there were lots of questions about where they came from and what was their purpose.

In the second book there was more answers and more character development.

In this book - there was, well, I don't know. For me there was a lot of checking to see what the remaining time was left on the audiobook, which is never a good sign. Don't get me wrong, the audiobook on the merits of it's production and narrators (15 of them!) was really well done (if you ignore Eva and the aliens). So that was a large positive. But the story itself was just a drag for me. Somehow these characters spent nine years on an alien planet and there was not a single alien characters that "came to life" for the reader. There was just a bunch of alien political drama which wasn't that interesting.

Then we get back to earth and there is more human political drama, which felt a little heavy handed with things that could be not subtle references to current events. The character drama was a bit better but I never felt like Eva was a realistic 19 year old, she was either doing immature crap or she was putting herself in situations no teenager would ever willingly put herself into without help from anyone she knows. It was all just very unbelievable. The only real highlight to this book? Elizabeth from Russia - her character was awesome and the narrator was perfect.

So in summary, this was a no-go for me and it's going on the dreaded "series has a terrible ending" shelf. Bah.
Profile Image for Faith.
1,801 reviews481 followers
April 3, 2018
This is the final book of the Themis trilogy and I don't think it would work as a standalone. The giant robots that visited Earth in the last book have returned to their home planet, Esat Ekt. Unfortunately, Dr. Rose Franklin, Eva Reyes, her father Vincent Couture and General Eugene Govender were celebrating aboard Themis when the Council of Akitast (aliens who decide how their world deals with others) caused Themis to travel back to Esat Ekt. The Council refused to return their accidental visitors to Earth, but after 10 years they are finally back. The book is a combination of flashbacks to their time on Esat Ekt and their lives after their return. Earth has undergone a lot of political changes during those 10 years. As in the first two books, the story is told entirely in the form of journal or log entries and transcribed interviews. It's not my favorite writing style and I really missed the unnamed interviewer from the first two books. His replacement is Russian intelligence officer Katherine Lebedev. I thought that her dialogue was very jokey and awkward.

I loved the first two books, but I wasn't that crazy about this one. It had none of the charm or imagination of the prior books. I found it to be preachy and there was too much politics (on both Earth and Esat Ekt) and not enough science or robots. Even though I agree with the author's point of view, I don't really want to be preached to in my scifi. There are internment camps on Earth for those people who have the most alien DNA. Muslims are particularly singled out for internment. (Really, the author is pretty ham-handed with his social commentary throughout this book.)

The planet was not thoroughly described but what description there was made it sound too much like Earth. The Ekt had very similar names (and were given no personalities) so it was difficult to tell them apart. Eva was an annoying, self centered teenager. Finally, the interviews and log records kept going around in circles rehashing the same arguments over and over again. Although I was disappointed by this conclusion to the trilogy, I wouldn't mind reading more about Themis.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Angelica.
803 reviews1,001 followers
May 19, 2020
Do you ever just hate a character? Like, genuinely hate them so much that you're secretly hoping they get hit by a bus the entire time you're reading? Hate them so much that just having them in a scene completely ruins it for you?

Because I hated Eva.

She's the single most annoying character I've ever read about.

And like, I get it. Her life is sucking right now. Nothing is going according to plan. But shit, girl, the world is literally ending! People are dying! Ain't nobody got time or energy to listen to your whiny self.

This story could have been so good. The first two books are amazing. Waking Gods is one of the best sci-fi I've ever read. Probably one of the best books I've read, period. But dang it Eva, you really sucked the fun out of this one.

I had other issues with this book, but Eva was problems 1 through 5 on my list.
Profile Image for Basically Britt.
116 reviews1,859 followers
November 7, 2019
Unfortunately I have to give this a 3/5 stars. It just wasn't as exciting and thrilling as the first 2 books (and I LOOOOVED those so much), so it's a shame that this series ended with this book. Nevertheless, I still thoroughly enjoyed reading this book series and if you're looking for an awesome action packed science fiction series, I highly recommend this one!

The audiobooks are also amazing!
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,610 reviews5,006 followers
October 20, 2022
#1 Sleeping Giants ★★★★★
#2 Waking Gods ★★★★★
#3 Only Human ★★★★★

“I hate this world. People are small. They’re ignorant, and they’re happy to stay that way. They make an effort to. They’ll spend time and energy finding ways not to learn things just to feel comfortable with their beliefs.”

I loved this so, so much. I don't have words to express how much I loved this. This series was so much fun and I'm devastated that it's over, but so happy to have experienced it. I am one of those readers who frequently finds herself disappointed with series finales, but this was one of the best, most satisfying endings to a trilogy I've ever read.

While the first book sucked me in with the plot and the second book kept me going with the characters, the third book was a perfect blend of the two that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. By this point in the series, I'd realized that I couldn't take anything at face value, so I spent much of the book guessing and theorizing, and I still didn't figure everything out ahead of time!

I'm going to miss this world and these characters very much, but I'm also immensely satisfied with where things wrapped up and the places these characters were in by the time it was all said and done. I would love to read more from this author very soon and I'm already planning on reading the short in-between stories soon, just for a little more time to spend in this world.

Buddy read with the lovely Misty!

Content warnings for:

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Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,038 reviews154 followers
May 2, 2018
Ohmygosh... The FEELS at the end! Neuvel rocked it once again with his series finale to the Themis Files.

In Only Human, Vincent, his daughter Eva, Dr. Rose Franklin, and the General had been whisked off to the aliens' planet of Esat Ekt as the 4 were celebrating their victory while inside Themis. 10 years have passed and our crew finally manage to make their way back to Earth with Themis.

Once again, the story is told in interviews, personal logs, and transcriptions and this time bounces between being back on Earth and those years spent on Esat Ekt. And once again, I was glued to my ereader throughout!

I did miss Kara and the nameless interviewer throughout this entire book. Russian Katherine just didn't appeal to me at all. If she was meant to take the nameless interviewer's place, it didn't work for me. I still enjoyed the heck out of everyone else though!

Although there wasn't as much action as the first 2 books, I still thought it was an amazing ending to the series. My favorite of the series will always be Waking Gods!

*Thank you to NetGalley and Del Rey Publishing for the advanced copy!*
Profile Image for Liz Barnsley.
3,385 reviews977 followers
February 7, 2018
Oh my gosh I actually shed a tear when I got to the end of Only Human – possibly because of what happened in it but mostly because THIS IS THE END. What an amazing, entertaining, creative and brilliantly written trilogy.

This series has had it all, amazing characters, heart stopping action, emotional trauma, and GIANT ROBOTS. Did I mention the GIANT ROBOTS?

So Only Human completes the tale, here we find some of our friends living on an alien planet until OOPS nope they are home. But what the heck have they arrived back into? The world is in turmoil, we have all gone mad and goodness knows whether or not there is any way back for the human race. It doesn’t help that the alien race are not exactly the greatest role models…

ANYWAY Eva is cross with her Dad Vincent and that may cause one or two issues. I thought I was going to miss someone but actually Katherine arrived and so I didn’t as much as I might have. I still haven’t forgiven the author though, just in case he thinks he’s off the hook, I said Katherine helped. Because she was funny and dangerous and brought some new life to our eclectic and highly captivating cast. In fact this may be one of the best yet for those hilariously ironic and clever little dialogue pieces that just make you smile.

I’m not giving away any further plot details, I’m trying not to spoil too much for anyone that hasn’t even started these yet – what I will do is say that this was the perfect end to what has been a perfect trilogy for this reader, the writing is simply rock and roll and it’s a bit of a rock and roll story from start to finish – but with an emotional depth that grips you and, honestly drives you a bit mad. In a great reading way.

So if I haven’t sold it to you yet, can I just remind you – GIANT ROBOTS. Plus damn fine plotting, damn fine characters and a damn fine finish . A trilogy to die for.

Highly Recommended.
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
600 reviews713 followers
July 7, 2018

A great conclusion to the trilogy but definitely my least favourite out of all the books.
A lot did happen and some moments kept me guessing at to the end game and all, yet it didn’t feel as intense or exciting as in the previous books.

Also, save for Vincent, Rose and Eugine I pretty much hated every other character especially, ESPECIALLY Eva. There were certain moments where I sympathised with her but for the most part I HATED HER. I HATED HER PETULANT ANTICS, not to mention her murky motivation for the certain things that she did.
If there’s one sure way to lose me instantly it’s giving me a petulant know-it-all teen characters who think they could do a better job than those around them.

Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,454 reviews2,319 followers
October 14, 2018
Only Human
By: Sylvain Neuvel
Narrated by: William Hope, Charlie Anson, Laurence Bouvard, Adna Sablylich, full cast
I have lived this whole series! The other books I have 5stars but this only four, it was wonderful but just lacked...something...I don't know what, but I enjoyed it! It was very deep and hit on social issues facing our country but on a different world. It addressed other issues on our world. Maybe that was it, I just wanted to escape! Lol! I like how things were resolved and I feel good about the end of the trilogy which I don't often feel after reading a series. I will miss the characters but can't wait to see what the author comes up with next!
The narration complemented the book perfectly...a FULL cast! How cool is that!
Profile Image for Heather.
358 reviews3 followers
February 1, 2019
3.5 stars.

I’m glad that I saw this series through. The first two books set such high expectations that this one fell short, sadly. I think a lot of it was interesting and I really applaud the author’s creativity. However, a lot of the message was heavy-handed, and it just made me a bit bored. Overall still an enjoyable book and a great series!
Profile Image for Rusty Grey.
143 reviews1 follower
December 25, 2018
A befitting conclusion to this fantastic series . This was a highly philosophical and thought provoking novel . Though its pacing was slower than the previous two installments it was more epic in scale . And more emotional too . The last few pages almost brought me to tears . Overall this is a great sci-fi series . Recommended to everyone .
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