Title: Once Humans (Daimones Trilogy #2)
Author: Massimo Marino
Genres: Dystopia | Mystery | Post-Apocalyptic | Science Fiction | Speculative Fiction
Length: 316 pages | 4820 locations
Following the events in book one, a new community has been set up at Civita.
Dan leads it, alongside Marina, and the new humans slowly evolve, always under the guise of the Moîrai.
However, strange sabotages start to occur and Dan cannot shake off the feeling that the Moîrai are hiding something crucial from him. Is it related to the attacks? Are they in danger?
This second book of the Daimones trilogy delves more seriously into the sci-fi aspect as opposed to the reactions to the apocalyptic events in the first book. These newly improved humans develop strange capabilities, one of the most interesting to sense whether anyone is around and even their heartbeat and feelings. The Palladium device allows all Selected to easily keep in contact with each other and, through council meetings with the Moîrai, progress and peace are maintained constant.
Dan is worried about many things, amongst which the fact that he will largely outlive their loved ones (even though he already has a future love interest in check), and the safety of those in his ‘colony’.
When strange sabotage acts start to occur, Dan and his fellow council members want humans to handle it, but find themselves forced to ask the Moîrai for help, as they find out the acts are not the work of human spared ones alone, as they initially thought. A larger conspiracy is at stake and, more than ever, the Moîrai will need to disclose the full truth behind what is happening and their own intentions.
There were a few editorial mistakes, like wrong verb tenses and misspellings (frequently of plurals, for instance). When Dan develops the ability to communicate telepathically, it got extremely difficult to follow when he was doing that and when he was speaking out loud. The telepathic messages should have been all in italic, or some other way to make it clearly distinguishable. As it was, I could not even tell who knew what, since I did not know what was being said aloud.
The book is action packed with plenty of twists and turns. While that was positive, I did feel thrown around a bit too much. The narrative felt a bit erratic and things would change abruptly, particularly between chapters. Most of all, I felt very confused all the time.
You see, one thing I love about reading a good mystery is that, when I am done with the book and look back, I find there were clues spread throughout the narrative and they now make sense in a way they didn’t before.
While reading Once Humans, I did feel that way towards some things but ultimately the book left me with more questions than answers and a feeling of unease.
One thing I felt was that the information was being provided in less than an intuitive manner. Examples:
– When Dan is talking to Marina and Manfred about not having been told the whole truth, shortly after the Indiana Jones like adventure, he started asking them whether they noticed that all the bodies had disappeared not long after the event that decimated most of the human race. He said Moîrai sanitized the entire planet of decaying cadavers and not for humanitarian reasons. Then he quotes from the book and then he talks about the drug and how he wants Laura to be treated with it. And only after all that does Marina say We’ve been the ingredients! Her reaction struck me as a bit out of context and I wondered how she even came to that conclusion, and a later reaction seemed off to me as well, when they are told what part of the human bodies serves to produce the substance. It seemed a bit over the top, considering they already knew the corpses provided the ingredients for the drug.
Unless I read the whole thing wrong. *sigh* I am not sure anymore.
– A time reversal experience is mentioned on a couple of occasions but I could not tell much about it. If I got a cool power like that, I would have wanted to know all about it, how it works and if it can be controlled. I cannot recall Dan asking about it at all, only that he was told it was an ability the Keepers possessed.
– Same thing with Dan’s telepathy. I was sad to see we did not get more info on how exactly that skill worked. It seems like Dan developed it out of the blue. Moreover, Alaston said evolved Moîrai posessed the skill, Ekahau amongst them. So I could never tell, for instance, if he could listen in or not, since Dan and Alaston kept talking like that in his presence even though they did not trust him, especially since Dan later picked up on a communication from Algea to Alaston.
Other times, I felt like the information was completely missing. Granted, I may have drifted off at times because the telling instead of showing was a bit overwhelming on a few occasions, but the fact is I would see references to passages I did not recall reading at all. I took quite a longer time finishing the book because I actually went back and reread large chunks of text, but still could not find the information.
– As far as I could tell, I never got to tell who parented the child in Annah’s womb. I am 99% sure Federico is spared because I vaguely recall reading it in the last book and I read nothing that made me think he is a Selected – he’s around Annah’s age anyway, so he was obviously born before the genocide, and we were told in the beginning of this book that all spared men were made sterile and so women had to access the Selected gene pool if they want to get pregnant, so what gives?
– I have no idea why Dan’s words caused Ekahau to flee and I couldn’t even tell if the characters who were as confused as me got any answers about that either. We were told he was obviously angry but I still don’t get why Keepers words would cause him to react like that, especially after his innocence was supposedly proved.
– Vatus and Xrusé are mentioned right at the end of Risky Business chapter. Even though the characters are obviously confused, the fact is the names seemed to mean something to them, whereas I could not recall hearing them at all, and a search of the book confirmed that. It took me ages to figure out that Vatus was the base in the Atlantic Ocean north of the Bahamas, for instance, as I thought by that point Marina had moved elsewhere.
– Dan says at some point that an event is in concurrence with the vision he had on Steven’s mind of a shifting Moîrai in a tense discussion with two Kristas, but I do not remember reading any of that before that time, only afterwards when he was at the Council reading Steven. Up until that point, as far as I could tell his experience with reading Steven was related as a whirlpool of sorts, and that was about it.
– Manfred accuses Dan of agreeing to send Marina to Vatus. I don’t recall that at all. I could not even tell she had been separated from those two until she was contacting them via the Palladium. One minute they were all in a ship, Marina sitting next to Alaston, and the next it’s just Dan and Manfred.
Then there were things I wished had been addressed differently:
One thing that bothered me was that Dan kept commenting that Frederico was shy around him, but never really did anything to change that, not even when prompted by Mary.
I was sad that I never got to know anything about Dan’s kids. I could not even tell how old they were. I wanted to know, for instance, all the differences between Samuel and Hope, since the former was transgenic but not the latter, and how it was like for each of them to grow up with the other. We got a hint that Samuel was protective towards Hope but that was it.
And I wanted Dan to show some sorrow in not being able to be with them – after all, they were his kids.
Alas, I am sure the third book will address them in some detail, but I still wanted to watch them grow up in this one.
And I would definitely have liked Dan to try and find Michael, the guy he met online in book one.
Obviously, there were plenty of good things in this book.
I was happy to see that what had bothered me in Daimones, about Laura being included in the relationship, was addressed here. I was very happy with the outcome! It seemed totally fair and that finally some sense got into those people.
All the science talk seemed very believable and I enjoyed it, as well as the sceneries described.
The descriptions were riveting and I felt right there. I experienced chills when Dan was going through Antarctica landscape and warmth when he was under the bedsheets with Mary, holding her, and my hair on end with the lightning storm. Marino has quite a way with words!
All the great powers the Selected in general and Dan in particular developed thoroughly gripped me. I kept imagining what it would be like to sense people’s presence and hear their heartbeats, for instance, not to mention being overwhelmed by deep feelings that belong to others.
And when some characters started developing mistrust towards the Moîrai, I felt it too. I was so annoyed that they would never give a straight answer! If they would ask me to come, I asked where to, and instead of answering me they just said follow and the next thing I knew I was in space, I would totally freak out!
And always, at the back of my mind, I would be wondering… Hmm, is Dan really human anymore? Well, a better person for sure, because it seemed like all the bad feelings and intentions had been filtered out but… Human?
While thought-provoking, the fact is all this perfection caused me not to relate to Dan as a character much. I would read that he cared but not actually feel it. Now that I think of it, there are no characters which I actually feel I connected with – well, maybe Mary, but we never heard much about her in this book.
But that’s okay because most of these character are something else entirely. I did not connect to the Moîrai either, but could appreciate them for what they were. The same with Dan and the others.
Once Humans is most definitely a thought provoking book, and an exciting one as well. Just when you think you’re settled somewhere, you’ll be ripped away and taken elsewhere, and new revelations will be made, new agendas uncovered, and it was such a lovely ride.
Had I not been so confused throughout it and had there been more fluidity to the narrative, the rating would most definitely be higher.
I still recommend it, though! Marino has created a thrilling, new world, one which you should definitely explore.
Disclaimer: I would like to thank the author for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Read from Jun 25 to Jun 27, 2015