Humans is the sequel to Hominids, the highly praised first volume in Sawyer’s Neanderthal Parallax trilogy. In this second instalment of the Neanderthal Parallax trilogy by Robert J Sawyer, Ponter Boddit takes geneticist Mary Vaughn to the near-utopia of the Neanderthal Earth. Mary Vaughn starts to question whether her relationship with Ponter is okay or whether it would be considered bestiality.
Some of the things that I liked about this book was the continued comparisons between our Earth and that of the Neanderthals. I loved learning about how bad agriculture in on the land and the creatures and how humans could live as hunter-gatherers if our population was 7.5 billion. There was more action in this book than the second and contained more speculative ideas than the first.
While Humans started off on the right foot, it seemed to have lost its balance somewhere along the way. I could have done without the graphic Neanderthal-on-Human sex scenes, especially since Mary Vaughn had just concluded that Neanderthals are in fact a different species than Homo Sapiens Sapiens. I found some of the characters that I liked in Hominids fell flat and one-dimensional in this book. The characters did and said things that really did not add anything to the story, such as Ponter’s talk with the therapist in the beginning. He bemoans about a crime which he feels guilty about but one for which he will never be judged.
As the middle book in a trilogy, it is hard to keep a story interesting and dynamic as there technically isn’t a beginning or end to the story as a whole; but Humans sort of fell to the wayside for me. I feel that the author was riding on his success of the first book and did not try as hard with this one. I am hoping the third and final book in the series will see an upswing to the writing and add more to the story and characters.