Rose Franklin has devoted her adult life to solving the mystery she accidentally stumbled upon as a child: a huge metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. The discovery set in motion a cataclysmic chain of events with geopolitical ramifications, as giant robots descended on Earth's cities. The mysterious invaders retreated, disappearing from the shattered planet . . . but they took the scientist and her crew with them. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find a devastating new war—this time between humans.
Sylvain Neuvel is an engaging and atypical writer. Like the rest of the series, Only Human is told entirely in transcripts of conversations, interviews and news reports, and Neuvel handles this challenging storytelling medium extremely well. The story he tells is interesting and compelling, in large part due to the complexity of the supporting cast ... The familiarity of that plot at times makes Only Human the literary equivalent of a cover band of a cover band composed of better musicians than the groups they mimic ... Its plot may cover previously trodden ground, but its narrative technique and character depth make it worth the reader’s time.
While not flawless—some major characters, such as the Russian intelligence agent Katherine Lebedev, come across as unrealistic, and the worldbuilding on the alien planet could have been much stronger—this is an utterly readable story powered by nonstop action and, more importantly, thought-provoking social commentary ... Two (giant, robotic) thumbs up!