Review: Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer


  • Title: Hominids (The Neanderthal Parallax #1)
  • Author: Robert J. Sawyer
  • Publisher: Tor, 2002
  • Pages: 418
  • ISBN: 9780765345004


Oh my goodness… I may have found a new favorite series.

So, I was browsing around the sci-fi section at B&N and happened to find books by this guy, Robert J. Sawyer. And they all looked so interesting, and I decided to buy two and try them out. This was one of them, and I’m SO HAPPY I bought it.

Hominids is about two parallel worlds – ours, and one where Neanderthals became the dominant species and we became extinct. The Neanderthals have reached technological heights comparable to us, maybe even more so, but their culture, history,  society, and philosophy are very different. Ponter Boddit, a Neanderthal scientist, accidentally crosses some breach and ends up in our world. He’s discovered and almost immediately confirmed to be a living Neanderthal, and the people in our world race to discover just how he came to be here. He’s befriended as well by some of the people who initially found him, including a geneticist named Mary Vaughn.

In the Neanderthal world, Ponter’s partner Adikor is accused of murdering Ponter, even though no one can find a dead body. He has to try to defend himself, while also trying to find a way to bring Ponter back.

So, dude… this book was SO GOOD. I flew through it. I like the idea of parallel universes / timelines, whatever you want to call it. And just to imagine a world like ours but in which Neanderthals survived is just so intriguing. I loved seeing the world that the author created – learning about how Neanderthals were doing things differently, their technology, their customs, their beliefs, etc. Some of my favorite parts of the book were the parts taking place in the Neanderthal world.

Things were just as fascinating in our world – watching how the world responded to the news that a living Neanderthal was found, seeing how Ponter & the humans* that found him (such as Mary) learned to communicate with him, and then all the conversations that took place about quantam theories, genetics, belief systems, etc. And while all of this was completely amazing and captivating to me, I was like learning stuff! About quantam theories! About Neanderthals! About genetics! Who would’ve known, I have a closet science nerd living inside of me. And while that may sound like a drag, it wasn’t. It didn’t slow me down at all, it didn’t take me forever to read and to process – I flew through this 400+ page book in two days.

Not only did I fly through this book, but I couldn’t stop talking to my honeyman about it, lol. I kept sharing with him all the things that the Neanderthals do differently, how they take different approaches to things, etc. I tried telling him about the quantam theories about parallel universes being created… but I’m not articulate enough to say it as well as the book did.

This book had one flaw for me, and that was Mary Vaughn. She plays a big role – as a geneticist who works to confirm that Ponter is, in fact, a Neanderthal, as well as befriending him. But she annoyed the freaking bejeezus out of me. She was such a victim… ugh I won’t go into the specifics. But at one point, she’s thinking about how lonely it must be for Ponter – to be in our world, where there is not one single other person like him. And then she sees a pretty girl, and thinks about how she wishes that she was more pretty… and then COMPARES IT TO PONTER’S LONELINESS. Seriously? You feeling a little unpretty is THE SAME as being the only one of your species in existence? GAG. But, her annoyingness did not decrease my overall love of this book, and even though I know she’s in the next book as well, I can’t wait to read it.

In fact, I’ve already bought the other two books in The Neanderthal Parallax, Humans and Hybrids. (Yay for discovering a trilogy AFTER all of the books have been released!) So you know, expect reviews of those sometime soon. Hopefully just as fan-girly and full of love and gushing as this one.

Oh, and give this book a try! Even if you don’t end up liking it (which is just crazy and I will mock you), you’ll at least feel all smart and science-y 🙂


Sarah Says: 5 stars



* So I know that Neanderthals & Homo sapiens sapiens (us) are both humans, just it’s just easier to refer to us as humans and them as Neanderthals. Cause typing out Homo sapiens sapiens is a pain in the butt.



  1. Hi Sara, I just finished the trilogy. The books are very good and it shows that the author did his homework on most of the science. Mary was a bit of a drag throughout the series. Like you, I kept telling my wife about the Neandertal technology and mannerisms. Gristle! Glad I stumbled across the books! It took about a month or so for me to read all three. Didn’t want to put them down.


      1. I was hoping that me never hearing of it would translate into the e-book being really cheap on Amazon but it wasn’t. It was $7.99 when I was hoping more like 99 cents like some books I got haha


      2. I’m not an e-reader person, but from what I’ve seen most books that are out in mass market are still mass-market price as an e-book. Which is just silly, paying that much for an intangible object, I think.

        But that being said, if you bought it then I really hope you enjoy it! It was a great, great book. I’m starting the sequel today.


  2. I prefer real books but I have such terrible luck with them. I’ve lost about 100 books to different things already and there was not much I could have done about it. Plus I’m not much for re-reading books.


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