The Last Human (Book)

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Most days, Sarya doesn’t feel like the most terrifying creature in the galaxy. Most days, she’s got other things on her mind. Like hiding her identity among the hundreds of alien species roaming the corridors of Watertower Station. Or making sure her adoptive mother doesn’t casually eviscerate one of their neighbors. Again.

And most days, she can almost accept that she’ll never know the truth—that she’ll never know why humanity was deemed too dangerous to exist. Or whether she really is—impossibly—the lone survivor of a species destroyed a millennium ago. That is, until an encounter with a bounty hunter and a miles-long kinetic projectile leaves her life and her perspective shattered.

Thrown into the universe at the helm of a stolen ship—with the dubious assistance of a rebellious spacesuit, an android death enthusiast on his sixtieth lifetime, and a ball of fluff with an IQ in the thousands—Sarya begins to uncover an impossible truth. What if humanity’s death and her own existence are simply two moves in a demented cosmic game, one played out by vast alien intellects? Stranger still, what if these mad gods are offering Sarya a seat at their table—and a second chance for humanity?

The fate of all life in the galaxy rests in the hands of its most dangerous inhabitant, the last human in existence, in the latest science fiction book to hit shelves. Combining humor, action, and powerful themes there’s a lot to enjoy about The Last Human. Check out my full review! 

This week, Del Rey is releasing an all new original science fiction novel called The Last Human. Considering everyone is currently doing their best to isolate and shelter in place, you’ll be looking for good books to enjoy more than ever. Fortunately, The Last Human brings the goods. 

As the name suggests the focus of the story is on the absolute last human in the known universe, Sarya. Long thought to have been extinct at the end of a galaxy-spanning war, Sarya is the adopted daughter of a...well, a giant space spider. Her life has been a lie, as she’s had to pretend to be a low-tier intelligence (the basis of the entire society is based on one’s intelligence scale) to avoid trouble. After all, Humans were wiped out due to their dangerous nature 

When Sarya comes across a higher intelligence who knows what she is, her world is suddenly turned upside down. After narrowly escaping from would-be kidnappers, Sarya finds herself on the run with a motley crew. Even as she begins to uncover the secrets of her past, and inherent nature, Sarya finds herself an unwitting participant of the machinations of higher intelligences.

In order to save herself, the galaxy, and perhaps even her species, Sarya must somehow outwit godlike beings locked in the ultimate power struggle. 

It’s tough to go much deeper into the story elements without delving into spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that. A big part of that, is how the book itself is structured. It immediately thrusts you into the heart of this unique world with little explanation, filling in the gaps as you go along. Hell, one of my favorite things about it is how it starts off from the perspective of an alien creature. 

In most Science Fiction, humans are the primary focus, as they are the most relatable. While Sarya is the character we get the most perspective from, because she’s literally the only human in the galaxy, so much of the analogies made and descriptions are decidedly alien in nature. It’s a unique approach we don’t see too often in Sci-Fi and I absolutely loved it. On top of making for some humorous moments, it kept me firmly invested in the world of the story. Even better, it’s presented in such a way that it’s still easy to understand. 

In fact, while the book manages to hit on some lofty themes/ideas, and skew close to “hard Sci-Fi” in some ways, The Last Human is a super easy read. There’s plenty of action, lots of great character interactions, and all of it is told in a concise way without bogging things down with overly descriptive (or technical) prose. Even though it comes in over 400 pages, I managed to read it in just a few short days. 

There are a couple minor, niggling issues at play. For the most part, the character moments are excellent in the book and everyone we meet along the adventure are instantly endearing. The problem is that even some of the “main” side characters seem to have almost nothing to do in the latter portions of the book. Honestly, for a good chunk of the book (maybe even a full third), they disappear completely. It made the story, which initially felt like a team/group adventure, into a solo endeavor; bringing them back to help with a crucial decision near the end. 

The book does an excellent job of highlighting the vastness of the galaxy. At every corner it offers up great reminders of the grand scale of things. While this is cool and helps with the harder Sci-Fi elements, it makes even the smaller “deus ex machina” moments stand out in stark contrast. As the novel continually harps on the grand scale of everything, certain conveniences in the story get more light shone on them than comfortable. It’s still a fun/excellent story all around, don’t get me wrong, but there are some moments where it certainly works against itself.

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Fast-Paced, Thought Provoking Science Fiction
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There are a lot of things I enjoyed about The Last Human, but ultimately it all boils down to how much FUN it was to read. The characters are great, there’s solid humor going on, more action than I was expecting, and presents a number of heady themes that I’m still thinking about long after turning that final page. Even better, it’s all a self-contained story that’s not part of a series (although there’s room in this galaxy for plenty more stories)! 

If you’re in need of some great Sci-Fi reading this Spring, and during our shared isolation, you should definitely pick up The Last Human. 
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