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

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Page Count
: 350

Only Human is the third and final book in the Themis Files series. If you want to read my review of book 1, Sleeping Giants, click here and if you want to read my thoughts on book 2, Waking Gods, click here!

It has been a while since I read the previous books in the series, but my statement that this is like an adult and more Earth-centered version of the Illuminae Files still stands … sort of. I was surprised at how easily I found myself back in this world, remembering (almost) everything that had happened previously.

This story is still very much about humanity. However, a large part of this book didn’t take place on Earth and that was to be expected after the cliffhanger ending from Waking Gods, but I think I thought that the aliens would be different. I had a VERY hard time taking the aliens seriously. Something about them and their way of life just seemed silly (I really had a tough time with their language for some reason) and even when situations became really dire, it just did not feel that way. There were some serious life and death scenarios in the past that often didn’t end well and I appreciated this cold and almost detached analysis of “mistakes were made” and “wrong decisions were made”, but nothing in Only Human felt as severe as it should. Even some real blowbacks didn’t affect me at all and that was a real shame.

I don’t remember if that was the case in the previous installments, but I also struggled a bit with the copious amounts of time jumps. I guess it wouldn’t have worked to just tell it chronologically, but it just felt more scattered, whereas I always considered this series to be very focused. Also, certain scenes quickly gave off a repetitive vibe, as the same characters fought over the same topics over and over again, without making much progress or trying to see the other’s perspective. To say that ended in a couple useless fights is the understatement of the week …

As far as endings for a series go, this was really decent though. Questions that were asked throughout all books were (partially) answered or dealt with, no characters were forgotten or left behind. Everything sort of came full circle and that’s always enjoyable in a way, even if you don’t know every itsy bitsy detail about the character’s lives in the “after”. It leaves you with less of a sense of wondering about humanity as I expected though. We are and always will be judgmental and ready for a fight it seems, it just depends who we choose to see as our villain.

Ultimately, I don’t know if it’s due to me having stepped away from the series for so long or this just really not grabbing me as much, but Only Human was my least favourite part in the series. I still have no regrets reading it in general, even if a very big reason for it was me falling utterly and endlessly in love with the covers.

Fazit: 3/5 stars! A good but not brilliant ending to a very interesting series.

Have you read the Themis Files? Do you want to? Are you as in love with the covers as I am?

What I’ve Been (Binge-)Watching #15

Ever since the last post of this kind, I have watched so many shows and films that I could probably fill three posts in total. However, I do want to keep it short and will just mention the things I remember or have something to say about.

How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast)

I am really digging the German Netflix content lately. Ever since this show premiered, basically all my social media was full of praise for it and even though I didn’t initially plan on watching it, it really is that good. It has a fun way of telling the story, mostly fresh faces in terms of casting and is super fast-paced with a promise of more to come. In addition to all of that, the show is just genuinely funny. Definite recommendation from me.

For fans of: short format storytelling, unconventional visualisation, international Netflix content, crime and drug story without the focus on gore

3% (Season 3)

I am disappointed in this season. First of all, one of the actors apparently just didn’t want to be in it anymore, so they wrote him off in the most stupid way. Secondly, where is the tension and finesse of the previous seasons? There used to be a cunning subtlety to this story, but now it’s more like “let’s hit the audience on the head with all this obvious nonsense”. I swear, one day my enemies to lovers OTP Michele and Rafael will happen, but other than that 3% really needs to get their shit together.

For fans of: dystopian stories, desert settings, too many wannabe saviours, characters that think they are SO smart but make stupid mistakes all the time

Black Mirror (Season 5)

Another disappointment on my end. I was excited for this season and I even watched all the episodes (sometimes I don’t … don’t judge me!), but somehow it didn’t sit right with me. The technological aspect wasn’t as present or innovative as in previous seasons and none of the stories were particularly shocking or eye-opening. If I had to rank them, I’d probably go just straight from episode 1 to 3 with best to worst. Striking Vipers was alright, Smithereens was basically just a story from now (no real technological advancement necessary) and I did not like the Ashley Too one at all. I am not saying it was terrible, but I have been better entertained before.

For fans of: Black Mirror in general, certain cast members in the different episodes

Dark Phoenix

Ugh … I tried. Look, I love this franchise to bits. I was on board with the new casting and going back in time and erasing X-Men 1-3 from ever happening, because why not? But if this is how it all ends, it was not worth it. First of all, in three decades, no one aged! Let’s be crystal clear here by saying that X-Men First Class took place in the late 60s and Dark Phoenix in the 90s. It does not show at all. Then they had my wonderful darling and comic relief Quicksilver AND THEY DON’T USE HIM AT ALL. I don’t get it. Why is the character of Quicksilver always done dirty? (Because Marvel was not any better) The villains of the movie don’t make any sense. I am not even sure we are told what they are called. We don’t know what really happened to them, what their motivation is and you know, basic background information that would make you care for them is simply missing. Lastly, I am like 90% sure that the final shot of The Last Stand was pretty darn similar to the final shot of this movie and why did we even do all of that?

For fans of: X-Men franchise people who need closure

Men in Black: International

I had fun, alright!? I know it’s not the best movie in the Men in Black universe (that will always be the first movie in my heart), but I had a good time watching it. MIB: International is basically an AU version of Valkyrie and Thor where they are the humans instead of the aliens. So, if you enjoy watching Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth play off each other with a bit of scene-stealing Kumail Nanjiani sprinkled in, this movie isn’t such a bad choice. As for the story, it was pretty predictable and didn’t bring anything new to the table, but I can live with that. Sometimes a movie doesn’t have to be the best out there, it just needs to be a little escape for the right now.

For fans of: Tessa/Chris dynamic and Kumail Nanjiani humour


I have also attended the TV Series Festival in Berlin and went to a couple screenings. I do want to write a separate post about those shows though, as to not make this one unnecessarily long. Did you watch anything I mentioned here? Let’s chat!

#CurrentlyWatching: 3%

Usually  I try to have at least one non-TV-related post between the #CurrentlyWatching features, but … that didn’t happen this week. Instead, I am just going to seamlessly continue with my theme of “competitive environment” by introducing you to a show called 3%.

As so very often with my posts, 3% is a Netflix show, however, it is a dystopian thriller from Brazil, and that is not so regular at all! You can watch it in its original language with subtitles, but there are also dubbed versions available. Coming from a country that has absolutely EVERYTHING dubbed from movies and shows to whatever-you-have-it, I am quite used to it. Nonetheless, it can be very distracting for people when the movement of the lips isn’t entirely in sync with what’s being said, so I just want to say that a lot of folks online recommend watching it not dubbed. I am someone who likes to do other things while watching my shows sometimes, so if I had to read the entire time, it just wouldn’t always have worked for me. I can therefore say with a confidence that the dubbing is not that terrible. I can’t really say how accurate the translations were though, as I suspect that would also be an issue if you read the subtitles? Anyway, there is currently one season out and the second season is set to release in 2018 (but no specific date has been announced as of yet).

The Offshore is the big dream for everyone living in the Inland. It’s a way to escape poverty and suffering, but only if they make it through the Process. Only 3% of candidates will be able to get that better life for themselves – what are they willing to do for it?

Where to start? I did not really have any expectations for this show. I am pretty sure that I watched it while I was in Toronto the first time, when it rained quite a lot and I needed some sort of distraction. I like to try all sorts of new things and a worldwide success from Brazil in the shape of a dystopian show definitely made its way onto my radar. Honestly, I thought I was over dystopians a little bit, but they did everything right with this one.

While watching 3%, you are never overwhelmed with information, in fact, you really only get it piece by piece over the season. I wouldn’t say it is unpredictable, but there are certainly revelations that keep building up constant tension. With a simple yet meaningful cinematography, 3% tells the story of a social divide and corrupt system at its own pace. Each of the characters has their own reasons for being part of the Process, their own backstory and beliefs. With a cast quite big, I always find it admirable when the creators manage to balance those peeks into everyone’s lives. I don’t know how famous the actors and actresses are in their own land, but they were new faces for me and somehow that even added to the realness and rawness of it all.

To me, 3% was an interesting exploration of how far humans would go in various scenarios. There were a couple deeply psychological aspects to the narrative and no hesitation to go dark when necessary. Moral issues were explored and were woven into a strong plot that still has potential to go pretty much anywhere they choose to take this story in season 2. Either way, it is very thought-provoking already and I have some hopes for what might happen in the episodes to come.

Usually, I am all over ships in shows and movies, but that wasn’t really the case with 3%. To be honest, I kind of dreaded some of the romantic entanglements and if you know me, you will understand how rare of a thing that is for me to say. I appreciated that we got to explore so many different characters and their relationships as they either intensify or grow apart during the Process. There is definitely something to say about each and every character of the show, be it good or bad, but I think I want to focus on Michele just because she was one of the first people I felt like I connected to.

Michele joins the Process because of revenge. That is already something that easily catches my attention. On the surface she is a very level-headed and reasonable young woman. She proves to have good leadership qualities and a sense of justice when it comes to the different tasks, it was just really simple to like her. However, still waters run deep and there is a lot more to her, especially a ruthlessness when it comes to avenging her late brother that you might not immediately see at first glance. In some ways I found her really manipulative, which is why I was always a bit on guard when she got close to people. I feel like she is a good person at heart, like she doesn’t enjoy bad things happening to others, but she also has priorities … if that makes sense. In the end, I enjoyed watching her navigate the Process and the relationships that came with it. I cannot wait to see where her character goes in Season 2. There is something in particular that I am hoping for, some romantic stuff I actually want to happen, but spoilers … so that’s it from me for today!

Have you watched 3%? Would you want to? Do you appreciate Netflix branching out into non-English territory more and more often as much as I do?