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How Did We Get So Different? Book Review by Gillian and the girls 📖🐾

Today, it's my turn on the book tour of SS O'Connor's How Did We Get To Be So Different?

This is the second in The Secrets Of Life series and follows from where How Did Life End Up With Us? ended.

I enjoyed reading the first in this series. It was packed with facts and answered many questions I've often wondered about over the years. All in all, that book was a fascinating read. But, would the second in the series be as good? With questions written on the back cover, such as:

  1. If mankind evolved from animals, then how come we're so different to everything else?

  2. How did we develop language?

  3. How did fire make us so different?

  4. Why was Europe always so minor - and then suddenly so important?

I have a pretty good feeling that How Did We Get So Different? will be a worthy successor.

So, having read the book, was I proved right or wrong? Read on and find out... 😊

S S O'Connor, author of the Secrets of Life Series


SS O’Connor spent 20+ years as an advertising executive before becoming a serial entrepreneur, assembler of private equity projects, investor and corporate strategist. He has been chairman/director of numerous public and private companies. His acclaimed novel, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, was published in 2013. He lives in London and Somerset.

How Did We Get To Be So Different? By, S S O'Connor


In Book One of The Secrets of Life quartet, SS O'Connor began the long narrative of existence by examining the moment of the Universe's creation and showing how the forces that Big Bang unleashed then drove the Earth's evolutionary currents. Things progressed painfully slowly, yet after 3.8 billion years of life - and the extinction of many billions of species - an obscure forest-dwelling ape emerged in East Africa.

Those unpromising primates were to become our ancestors. Yet what, Book Two asks, were the steps that led to us being so completely different to anything that had appeared before? If we really were just another kind of animal off the production line of life, then what were the revolutions that turbo-charged our abilities?

What did we do that meant we could alter ourselves in an instant and so avoid being stuck in an evolutionary niche like every other organism? How did we manage to create the intelligence and insights that allowed us to make our own life decisions? And where did the free will come from that would let us override the drives of our animal pasts?

We, alone of all the world's species, were to develop the ability to look into the future and then change our behaviour to suit our ambitions. But how did we row our brains and imaginations so greatly that we were able to achieve this? Only we have evolved the capacity to reject the genetic instructions that shaped us. But why do we think this helps - and how has the ability affected our lives?

Our human story shows how we were to become different to everything that had existed before us. But why, in that case, were we to remain so similar?

The Secrets Of Life Series


Once again, SS O'Connor takes the reader down a path of enlightenment and knowledge. There are so many questions discussed in this book and written in a way that is easily absorbed and processed.

Many of the questions I'd sought answers to in the past, were always dealt with in clumsy, confusing language, which, to be honest, I gave up on reading. A lot of the literature on these subjects needed a glossary to explain the terminology used! But this is not the case with SS O'Connor's The Secrets of Life Series. Finally, I've got the answers, and it's left me wanting to find out more!

Since reading How Did We Get To Be So Different? I've researched people which, up until reading this book, I knew nothing about. These people are fascinating! How did I not know about them before? Here's an example:

  • Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679). An English Philosopher and mathematician. He lived in France during the English Civil War and had many influential contacts, including none other than the Stuarts - the exiled Royals. Hobbes' most popular work was the book, Leviathan. His works and teachings were a highly regarded influence on how the world - during the tumultuous years of the English Civil War - was being shaped.

And here is another nugget of information I learned from reading How Did We Get To Be So DIfferent?.

  • FOXP2 is a protein-coding gene in our brains. Following a mutation some 50,000 years ago, this is why we humans have the ability to speak and other mammals do not - fascinating, right?

Every chapter in this book contains enthralling facts like these, which makes it a compelling page-turner.


Thank you, LiterallyPR and SS O'Connor, for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My rating for this book is: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Check out my next review on 18th May, on Averi Ridge Castaneda's, picture book, The Compulsion Cloud.

Here's an extract from the book blurb - just to give you a taster.

Holly’s story starts with a cloud and it’s not a fluffy, white one you’d see on a sunny day. Instead, it’s a scary, dark cloud that looms over her and makes anxiety provoking demands, which, if disobeyed, could cause bad things to happen to her oved ones. but fortunately for Holly, she is seeing a therapist who has a plan to help her get rid of this bullying cloud, once and for all.

It sounds good, doesn't it? 🙂

Until then, stay safe and happy reading 📖

Gill x

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