Review: Only Human
Only Human, Sylvain Nuevel
To be published May 1, 2018, Del Rey Books (A Random House imprint)
I think I was always going to find reading this book bittersweet, as I knew that it would serve as the conclusion to an epic tale that I have been so delighted to visit over the years.
In the reviews of the previous books I've talked about how much I enjoyed the blending of science, imagination, and humanity, and while this book still delivers all three, there's a much deeper exploration of identity and humanity.
While I blazed through the first two books, eagerly devouring every new detail, this was a slower read (which isn't a bad thing) for a few reasons:
First, The Interviewer is gone and within a few chapters I discovered just how much I miss his brand of humor and his breadth of knowledge. Maybe born out of the habit of having his tone so present in the first two books I found my self subconsciously searching for it in this one. I also missed the way he teased out little pieces of the greater mystery, which is more or less "solved" by the end of "Waking Gods."
Second, all science fiction aside, the book is dealing with very real issues that for me felt like repeatedly prodding a bruise. Like Rose, I keep hoping for the best in humanity, keep celebrating the people who strive to make a difference, but the myriad of ways that fear has made people narrow in their world view and quick to blame anyone different from themselves becomes more and more apparent everyday. People being persecuted for where they come from, the expression of genes, the regions they practice, for simply being too "other" is such a painful subject to explore while living in age where we seem to be determined to repeat the mistakes of the past.
And we won't get the kind of resolution that Rose does, which feeds an appreciation for the escapism of the book to some degree, while wondering what the hell it will take for the real humans of our earth to find unity.
Thirdly, this book is primarily about the relationship between a father and daughter, between Vincent and Eva and it was a shift of focus I wasn't expecting. It kept grounded more in the realities of that relationship than in the wonder and mystery of the previous books.
Overall I feel like I'm sad to see this story come to a close, but this was an ending that delivered a surprising amount of hope. I will miss Rose most of all and the sense of adventure that came from the first book in particular, but then that's what rereads are for.