The Humans by Matt Haig

The Humans

“I know that some of you reading this are convinced that humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist. For those that don’t know, a human is a real bipedal life form of midrange intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small waterlogged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe.”

“This book, this actual book, is set right here, on Earth. It is about the meaning of life and nothing at all. It is about what it takes to kill somebody, and save them. It is about love and dead poets and wholenut peanut butter. It’s about matter and antimatter, everything and nothing, hope and hate. It’s about a forty-one-year-old female historian called Isobel and her fifteen-year-old son called Gulliver and the cleverest mathematician in the world. It is, in short, about how to become human.”

I tried a book by Matt Haig about a year ago, something about dogs being protectors for humans, but I never finished it. So when I saw The Humans at the library, I hesitated, but the premise sounded interesting enough that I decided to take a chance. GOOD DECISION, SARAH.

An alien comes to Earth with a mission: to destroy knowledge, particularly the knowledge that one mathematician by the name of Andrew Martin discovered, and then hurry back to his home planet where he enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge. When he first arrives to Earth, he’s disgusted by humans; the strange look of them, their obsession with clothes and war and greed and straight lines. But slowly, as he takes the place of Andrew Martin while he tries to complete his task, he learns that their may be more to the humans than he and his species initially thought.

This is a hard review to write, because I basically just want to quote the entire thing. I really need to go buy my own copy, because I’m way too lazy to write down that many quotable passages. The beginning is so hilarious and snarky, and I kept stopping to read parts out loud to the honeyman and laugh about how bizarre it was. Slowly things became a little more serious, and the writing is actually quite lovely. The alien comes from a place of emotionless logic and reason (kind of like a Vulcan, or Borg), but grows to see the beautiful flaws that make humans special; our ability to love, to contradict ourselves, to care about one another.

I read this completely on a whim. I started flipping through it while I was making dinner, and before I knew it 50 pages had flown by. Matt Haig really impressed me with The Humans. When you say “a book about an alien”, people automatically think of science fiction and spaceships and maybe galactic warfare. But this is not that. It’s a beautifully written dark comedy about what it means to be human, and it’s fantastic.

Sarah Says: 5 stars

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16 comments

    1. YES. Oh man I’m so happy someone else has read it, lol. It was so good! The beginning was so bizarre and had me laughing, and then it totally transformed into this beautiful book about humanity… Yeah, I need my own copy.

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    1. I hadn’t heard of it either. I had heard of the author, but not too often and I didn’t finish the other book I started by him (The Labrador Pact, I think it was called), so I wasn’t expecting this to be as awesome as it was.

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  1. Matt Haig is a really unique writer. I read THE RADLEYS by him and really enjoyed it in spite of the fact that i didn’t really think it would appeal to me. It was about a famiily of vampires I think. This looks like another one that takes a genre and turns it into something other that what you expect.

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