Review: Humans by Robert J. Sawyer

  • Title: Humans (The Neanderthal Parallax #2)
  • Author: Robert J. Sawyer
  • Publisher: Tor, 2003
  • Pages: 317
  • ISBN: 9780765346759

Guess what guys? I read this in a DAY. That’s it. This series just sucks me right in. Ummm and just a warning, there’s slight spoilers from the first book… kind of. I mean not really, not anymore than you’d really get just from reading the back of the book, but still.

So, this is the second book in the trilogy about two universes – ours, and the one in which we died out and the Neanderthals prevailed. This one picks up almost right where the first book ended, with Ponter Boddit back in the Neanderthal world, and asking the leaders there to let him try to re-open the portal to our universe so that the two worlds can trade, communicate, and learn about each other. And secretly because he wants to see Mary Vaughan again.

Of course Ponter succeeds and re-opens the portal, hopefully this time permanently. And Ponter and Mary learn more about each other’s species and culture, while growing closer themselves.

OK. So, not quite as good as the first novel, but still pretty damn interesting. There was even more of Mary, and my goodness I dislike her. I think Sawyer was trying to paint her as a character you’d have a lot of sympathy for, but instead she’s whiny and annoying the bejeezus out of me. Luckily, Ponter is awesome and theΒ whole idea behind the story is still interesting enough that I just try to ignore Mary as much as possible.

What really sucks me in is the science-y talk and philosophical debates. In the last book, it was about quantam computing, possible universes, the Great Leap Forward, the existance of God, etc. In this book there was more good stuff – Earth’s magnetic field and pole reversal, morality, hunter-gatherers versus farmers, etc. There was also some debates about God (again), war, privacy, and guns – although I’m on the opposite side of the book’s stance on guns, but still.

My only real complaint about this book is that I wish it had been longer. It was 100 pages shorter than the first novel, and those 100 pages could have gone a long way in helping Mary and Ponter’s developing relationship seem more believable, and of course would have left room for more of the smart stuff that I’m just soaking up.

The crappy thing is that none of the bookstores in my area had the third book in stock, so I had to special order it and it should be in by next Thursday. I wish I had it now, I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends. But on the other hand, maybe it’s a blessing in disguise cause I don’t WANT it to end. I wish that Sawyer had turned this into a 10-book series exploring every little possibility and situation that could occur if we really did have direct contact with an alternate world.

Sarah Says: 4 stars

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