BOOK REVIEW: THE HUMAN by Stephanie Erickson

I forced myself to wait a bit on this one. I mainlined THE FATE and THE REAPER in one day. If I wanted to make my enjoyment of the series last, I needed to not read EVERYTHING in all one fell weekend-swoop. So while on my long car trip recently, I allowed this to be my final book read. (And literally, I finished it just before I got home. Very impressive, me.)

What a way to finish a series. SPOILERS BELOW. (Some of them major. Please don’t click unless you’re sure. I’m talking character death kind of spoilers.)

For anyone who doesn’t want to spoil themselves, the tl;dr version is: Amazing book, brilliant finale, made me feel all kinds of feelings I didn’t want. 100% brilliant, absolute five stars.

As I suspected, THE HUMAN follows both Penn and Michaela throughout the story, alternating by chapter. Given how integral they both are, and how very likely it would be that they wouldn’t be near each other for chunks of it, that’s a perfect way to make sure everything gets touched upon. Especially since there’s a lot to touch on: saving Andrew and Kismet from the soul prison, finding Michaela after Mara abducts her, making sure Lily gets where she needs to go, and oh yeah–sorting out the mess that Penn’s absence has been making in heaven.

But no pressure, right?

I love how consistently Penn holds a grudge in these books. It would be easy to soften him over time, have him ease up a bit, but particularly since Kismet (and Andrew, to a degree) are involved, there’s no backing down for him. He only begins to ease up after everything is said and done. I loved it. Similarly, watching Michaela’s struggle with who she is, what she’s becoming, and what it means for herself and everyone around her is fascinating. It’s always interesting to see a character who’s had their existence so clearly laid out before them for so long…suddenly be told there’s a change of plans. Be forced out of that path. Make something new of themselves. We saw Penn do it–and it was easier for him, because of Kismet. Michaela doesn’t have that, and the struggle is so much deeper because of it.

Mara is one of those amazingly written characters where you really want to praise just how well written she is but YES DIE IN A FIRE YOU EVIL WITCH. (Well, not a fire, but you get it.) If I thought I hated Webber, the emotions that Mara evoked in me were a thousand times worse. Nothing was going to be good enough for her. As harsh as it may have been, I was thrilled by God’s final verdict for her. She didn’t even deserve that much. I don’t know what would have been worse, but she should have gotten that.

All of that is made even keener as soon as we meet Shiloh. Small lovely child, far too wise beyond his years, and an utter heartbreak every time he shows up. What a powerful character for how little page time he truly gets. I was about to type that he plays such a small role, but that’s not accurate at all; in truth, Shiloh is the entire plot of the entire series. Beginning with Penn being banished to Earth, until the very end, Shiloh is the reason it all happens. His final fate made me smile, even if it wasn’t what he truly wanted–but I’m with the angels on that one. No one can ask that of a boy his age.

*ahem* Jumping back to characters I hate. I actually went to Twitter as soon as I finished the book to speak in stern capital letters at Erickson about this one. Webber. Webber, the annoying asshat of a character who made my baby Penn’s life miserable. The one who took over the Spinner job and was SO BAD at it. The whiner, the complainer, the one who managed to get himself captured in hell, the one I had NO TIME FOR AT ALL. …and then he shows up for Michaela. Yes, he’s still annoying, but there’s something more there. There’s something else to him. I started to warm up to him. Maybe there was hope. Maybe he’d become a character I could tolerate. Maybe…

MAYBE YOU’RE JUST GOING TO VANISH HIM OUT OF EXISTENCE ON ME. Not kill him, not send him back to heaven, give me some chance of him still showing back up some day. No. Just gone. Gone forever. SONOFA–

Just because I didn’t like him didn’t mean I wanted him to be vanished. 😦

But all turns out well in the end, and the final choice placed before Penn and Michaela I think is the best way to end possible. It’s just open-ended enough that you can dream of what happens next, but it doesn’t demand a sequel. You know in the end, they can have it both ways…but they get to have what they choose first. I love the two of them. *makes tiny Fate doll and Reaper doll smooch* SHUT UP DON’T JUDGE ME

I’m sad the series is over, but it was such an amazing ride I’m just happy to have found it. What a splash of serendipity when I came across this author…however I did it. Looking forward to reading more of her work as soon as I can.

Rating: ***** (Highest Recommendation)


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