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

I can’t say that I knew that was going to happen, that millions would die because I had discovered Themis and brought attention to our planet, but I was afraid it would. I was afraid ever since I was brought back to life. I felt…out of place, and I wished that whoever built Themis would come back and take her away. I also said I hoped they would take me with them.

In the third and final installment of the Themis files we learn what happened following the massive cliff hanger at the conclusion of book two, Waking Gods, and also begin to see what the ramifications were following Rose’s destabilization of one of the giant robots sent to Earth from the distant, and at the time unknown, alien planet.

The story bounces between past and present, recounting the lives of Rose, Vincent, and his daughter, Eva as they learn to adjust to their new surroundings and the new lifestyle of the inhabitants of the alien planet Esat Ekt, where they find themselves stranded following their abduction inside the robot, Themis. For Rose and Eva these events prove to be something adaptable and positive as they each find a tangible sense of belonging that was absent from their life on Earth. But for Vincent, the relocation is anything but favorable and he spends their years on Ekt worrying over his daughters well-being, determined to escape this alien planet and return to their ‘home’.

What did you expect? Space combat? We at and we slept and we washed dishes. I know it sounds boring, but…how do I explain this? Imagine yourself in a place that kinda looks like here, but every little thing is just different enough to make you feel like an idiot. It’s familiar, but you don’t know how to use the door handles, the toilet. You don’t know if the thing you’re holding in your hand is a fork or some kind of screwdriver. Is that box food, something like salt, what you clean the toilet with? We were…lost.

By contrast, the present narrative uncovers just how devastated Earth was following the Ekt’s initial attack which decimated the world’s population. Humankind, unable to comprehend an intergalactic war, has turned upon itself and initiated the third world war, this time with robots as the main destructive force. People are reduced to the percentage of alien DNA they possess, where those with the highest concentrations are detained in special camps. The worldwide power dynamic hinges upon the possession of a robot similar to Themis, and familiar to those who have followed the series, so when events transpire that return our protagonist group to Earth, a battle ignites, with Vincent and Eva pitted against one another.

As the story unfolds, themes of friendship and family unveil themselves among the destructive forces of the power hungry leaders of the new Earth and the distant and foreign leaders and citizens of Esat Ekt. With the fitting title of Only Human, Neuvel has concluded his trilogy with a look into the human experience and human nature and left us with a profound bit of advice—when threatened, whether by domestic threats or alien invasions, we must look to one another and come together for our similarities rather than blame and tear each other apart for our differences.

There’s a reason we weren’t prepared. We didn’t ask for this. We haven’t done anything! Don’t take this the wrong way, but this isn’t our mess, it’s yours, the Ekt’s. The Ekt killed millions of us. They did. They scared us to dead and left us running around chasing out tail because they didn’t want to interfere any more than they had to. But here’s the thing, they had to. It’s their fault! It’s all their fault. They came here three thousand years ago and fundamentally changed who we are. They screwed with the very fabric of life on this planet. They are responsible. It doesn’t matter that they want nothing to do with it, it’s their responsibility.


A review copy of this title was provided by Del Rey Books.


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