Becoming Human by Eliza Green

becoming humanBecoming Human is a novel set in the future, the year 2163. Earth has become nearly uninhabitable – immensely overpopulated with toxic gases so strong they blot out the sun. In order for humanity to survive, they must travel into space, and hope to find a habitable planet. After struggling to find a suitable “replacement” Earth, the world’s top scientists develop a process for terra-forming, and thus create Exilon 5. Exilon 5 is everything Earth used to be, full of sunshine and life, including nature and animals. But as the people from Earth begin to transfer to Exilon 5, they discover they are not alone, and the indigenous people on the planet are not happy to have new neighbors.

The story is told from multiple perspectives. The major players are:

  • Bill Taggart. Bill is an investigator working for the World Government. He is on Exilon 5 officially to learn about the Indigene, and unofficially to discover what happened to his wife, who went missing on Exilon 5 and is presumed dead. Taggart is a fierce, cold-hearted character who has lost all sense of self with the loss of his wife. He is miserable and angry, with good reason.
  • Stephen. Stephen is an Indigene, one of the smartest and fastest, who is tasked by the Central Council to investigate what his people call the Surface Creatures who have moved in and are taking over Stephen’s planet. His hatred for the Surface Creatures runs deep, as he witnessed the deaths of his parents at their hands, but his commitment to finding out everything he can about them so they can be destroyed runs even deeper. It was a challenge to deal with POVs of two very angry characters. Their anger made sense, but for me it made some of their narration unappealing and was detrimental to the story. Stephen in particular could have used some more dimension and development.
  • Ben Watson. We meet Ben only briefly, but he is a narrator of the story. He is a young boy Stephen meets and befriends in order to learn about the Surface Creatures.
  • Laura O’Halloran. Laura works for the Earth Security Centre in Sydney. She is essentially a drone who files computer documents, and dreams of being transferred to Exilon 5 to get away from the horrors and exhaustion on Earth. I wanted to like Laura, but she was such a wet blanket, and she worried constantly. On one hand, I could emphasize because I worry constantly, haha. On the other hand, for goodness sake Laura, make a decision!
  • Galen Thompson. Galen worked as an Air and Space Controller, helping land spaceships and watch “weather” patterns in space so they could fly safely. Galen’s parents are paranoid conspiracy theorists, which is essentially the only reason Galen is important to the story.
  • Captain Jenny Waterson flies spaceships. She had no other relevant personality.
  • Daphne Gilchrist is a leader in the World Government. She is, essentially, a bitch obsessed with being the most powerful person in the room – or really, the world. She was obnoxious and mean, and I couldn’t stand her.

As you can see, that is a ton of POVs. And some of them were only pertinent for a few pages, and then disappeared never to be seen or heard from again. I was especially bothered by the two women, Laura and Gilchrist. Laura was a doormat. She grew a little by the end of the novel, but I wanted her to step up and be decisive, and she never quite got there. Gilchrist fulfilled every bad stereotype about a woman in power. Yes, OK, she was technically a villain. But I didn’t think she had to be quite so awful. So much sneering, plans to “punish” her inferiors, and general negativity. I got the point. She’s a bad person. I don’t think the author needed to get quite so carried away.

This was a tough novel for me to “grade” so to speak. The concept was cool. I was worried it would be preachy, and turn into one of those books that wants to teach readers a lesson about climate change or taking care of the planet, and I was pleased that was not the case. Obviously that message was present, but it wasn’t the purpose. I loved the idea of space travel, and humans moving to a new planet, along with shady government conspiracies. Unfortunately, there were places where the writing was less than stellar. It frustrates me to read a novel and think “I could do this better.”

I didn’t know this was a self-published book until I finished it. As an aspiring author, I have an enormous amount of respect for authors who self-publish. That also explains the moments of what I considered not fantastic writing. The book had an editor, but it just didn’t have quite the same polished final quality of books that go through a regular publisher. Though I don’t usually say this, I think the book could have been fifty pages longer, with more developed characters. While I didn’t love it, and I’m not racing out to get the next book, I am keeping book two, Altered Reality, on my To-Read list. I think Eliza Green has quite a bit of potential and am intrigued to see what she will do next.

2 and a half stars

Two and a half stars out of five. Not the best book I’ve ever read, but if you like science fiction, its a relatively easy read (compared to some sci-fi novels). The ending was great too. I wish it hadn’t taken so long to get there, but it was worth it, and while I knew there was going to be a twist, it wasn’t what I thought it would be. And finally, its always worthwhile to support independent authors who self-publish.

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