Thank you to Hodderscape for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Book: The Last Human
Author: Zack Jordan
Year Published: 2020
- Plot: 1/5
- Characters: 2.5/5
- Writing: 3.5/5
- Overall: 2.5/5
The Last Human was a space opera set in a galaxy where the most feared species were Humans due to their destructive natures. In all honesty, I found it quite disappointing: the first half of the book was rather intriguing but that interest was promptly demolished by the second half.
The story followed a young Human called Sarya who was raised by Shenya the Widow (Widows being one of the many alien species in the book). She was trying to hide her species as she was the last Human in the Network-connected galaxy she lived in. Until her secret came out and as she ran for her life she discovered that everything was controlled by greater powers than she could ever comprehend.
The alien species belonging to the Network were ranked in tiers of intelligence going from one to five (and maybe beyond…). Their notion of ‘intelligence’ was never properly explained but the idea was the higher your intelligence tier the faster and more advanced your thought processes and capabilities would be. Humans would probably fall somewhere in tier two. There were also group intelligences with hive minds which were disconcerting but in an interesting way.
The only aspect of the book that I appreciated (and that pushed the rating up) was the world building. The way the different aliens, lower intelligences and the Network all interacted with each other quite seamlessly was impressive and original. Furthermore, the various alien species created were all unique, I especially liked how Sarya’s Widow upbringing affected her character and their mother-daughter relationship was one of the things that drew me in during the first half of the book. I also liked how the intelligence tier system created a hierarchy and affected the dynamic between characters.
The plot is what really ruined this book for me. Lots of different things happened and many characters were introduced and I had no idea why but I was sure it was leading up to something meaningful… but then it didn’t. As I said earlier, the first half was quite good, it built up Sarya’s character and the world and had a fairly fast paced plot that felt like it was building up to something. But then in the second half of the book it felt like the plot was forgotten in favour of vague philosophical rambling that threw away all the development previously established. I could tell it was trying to explore ideas surrounding free will, the vastness of the universe (and our insignificance in comparison) and the price of maintaining order in such a sprawling Network but it didn’t come through very well for me. It all just seemed quite confusing and meaningless and it wasn’t properly integrated into the story just haphazardly dumped in.
Sarya had no character development. Despite her massive journey across the universe, despite all the shocking truths she had learnt, she stayed the same. And that goes for the side characters too. On top of that, her motivations were very hard to understand and I had no idea why her actions kept contradicting themselves.
I felt let down by The Last Human, it had so much potential but it was all thrown away by the end. But despite how I felt about it, the book is still worth giving a chance as the world created is very intriguing and maybe the philosophical ideas will resonate with others more than they did with me.