Petrik's Reviews > Only Human

Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel
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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
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Reading Progress

November 6, 2017 – Shelved
May 15, 2018 – Started Reading
May 17, 2018 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-25 of 25 (25 new)

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~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books Great review! I was also struck by how different this book was from the first two. It doesn't try to build on the epic-ness of the story in Waking Gods and instead focuses on humanity. Probably the most fitting titles of any of the books.


Petrik ~Dani~ LazyTurtle's Books wrote: "Great review! I was also struck by how different this book was from the first two. It doesn't try to build on the epic-ness of the story in Waking Gods and instead focuses on humanity. Probably the..."

Thank you! Yeah, it was certainly unexpected but it's also the most appropriate end for this trilogy. The title is very apt indeed, thanks for reminding me that this book is out! XD


message 3: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Great review, Petrik! I'm definitely looking forward to reading this series!


message 4: by Celeste (new)

Celeste Wonderful review love!


Petrik Colleen wrote: "Great review, Petrik! I'm definitely looking forward to reading this series!"

Thank you, Colleen! Woohoo, I hope you'll enjoy it! :)


Petrik Celeste wrote: "Wonderful review love!"

Thank you, love! :D


Liam Degnan Ooh, I'm so excited for this! I loved the first two. Great review, Petrik!


Petrik Liam wrote: "Ooh, I'm so excited for this! I loved the first two. Great review, Petrik!"

Yeay! I think you'll love this one too, Liam. Man it's been a while since I see you here on Goodreads.I'm assuming busy with the new kid?? :) Thanks btw!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Looking forward to this series......


Petrik *Keith* wrote: "Looking forward to this series......"

Hope you'll enjoy it, Keith! :)


message 11: by Liam (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liam Degnan Petrik wrote: "Liam wrote: "Ooh, I'm so excited for this! I loved the first two. Great review, Petrik!"

Yeay! I think you'll love this one too, Liam. Man it's been a while since I see you here on Goodreads.I'm a..."


Sweet! And yes, I'm easing my way back into the reading life ;]. Way too busy these last two months, but we're getting into a more normal life schedule now so you'll probably be seeing a little more of me =].


Manisha I agree completely. Great review!


Petrik Liam wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Liam wrote: "Ooh, I'm so excited for this! I loved the first two. Great review, Petrik!"

Yeay! I think you'll love this one too, Liam. Man it's been a while since I see you here on ..."


I haven't said it, congrats, man! It's awesome that you're getting into more normal life schedule now, I'll be seeing you, bro! :D


Petrik Manisha wrote: "I agree completely. Great review!"

Thank you, Manisha! Glad you agree! :)


message 15: by George (new)

George Jankovic Awesome review, Petrik!


Petrik George wrote: "Awesome review, Petrik!"

Thank you, George! :)


UrsulaGraham Great review petrik! I loved this trilogy!


Petrik UrsulaGraham wrote: "Great review petrik! I loved this trilogy!"

Thank you, Ursula! It's a great trilogy for sure! :)


message 19: by TS (new)

TS Chan Great review, Petrik!

Man, those quotes really hit home a bit too closely around the RL issues humanity faces.


Petrik TS wrote: "Great review, Petrik!

Man, those quotes really hit home a bit too closely around the RL issues humanity faces."


Thank you, TS! yeah.. unfortunately :/


Vesna I've just read the first part and I'm sooo disappointed! Is there a point in continuing?


Vesna I mean, I don't want to read about american politics! Are there actual aliens anywhere???


Petrik Vesna wrote: "I've just read the first part and I'm sooo disappointed! Is there a point in continuing?"

Tbh, if you're looking for more aliens, I think you'll be disappointed until the end, this is also why I think the rating for this one is quite low because it's very different from reader's expectations. We do get to see some of the culture around the aliens but not a lot and definitely not a lot of actions too.

I do think it's worth continuing, I love this one after all, but if you're expecting the book to be focused around the aliens or the battle with them, I think you'll be disappointed! I hope that helps, Vesna! :D


Vesna Petrik wrote: "Vesna wrote: "I've just read the first part and I'm sooo disappointed! Is there a point in continuing?"

Tbh, if you're looking for more aliens, I think you'll be disappointed until the end, this i..."


Tnx, Petrik, I did help. I got the sequel as an audiobook and started listening to it. But like you said, it's pretty much more of the same. I'll give it a go, at least for a while.


Petrik Vesna wrote: "Petrik wrote: "Vesna wrote: "I've just read the first part and I'm sooo disappointed! Is there a point in continuing?"

Tbh, if you're looking for more aliens, I think you'll be disappointed until ..."


Awesome! I hope it will get better for you but if it didn't, don't force it! :)


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