The Humans


The Humans
by Matt Haig



After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

What could possibly make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book and probably wouldn’t have picked it up if it hadn’t been for all the glowing reviews on Twitter. When I saw the book I absolutely fell in love with the cover and knew I had to read it. If it took me a while longer than normal to read the book it was because I spent an inordinate amount of time staring at the cover.

Professor Andrew Martin has been killed and his body taken over by an alien because he has solved the Riemann hypothesis, a mathematical problem that will lead to great technological advancement for the human race. This is a problem for the alien race as they view humans as a violent, greedy race of mid-intelligence and they don’t want them spreading their wings across the universe. The alien has to destroy all proof that the hypothesis has been solved and has to kill anyone that may have been told about it.

It is an unusual read and one that you can’t help but get into right away. The humour is infectious. The description of ordinary mundane human things, seen through the eyes of someone with no knowledge of them is hilarious. The alien has a love of mathematics and in particular the beauty of prime numbers, so he finds it quite difficult to understand human ways.

As the story moves on it becomes more poignant. The alien finds that living amongst humans gives him a better understanding of them and their, sometimes strange, ways. He comes to care for and even love his ‘family’, Newton the dog, peanut butter and Emily Dickinson.

This is a wonderful book full of observations on humans, both good and bad. I cringed with embarrassment at some of them but smiled with pleasure at others. The list compiled by the alien for his earth son, entitled ‘Advice for a Human’ is a particular joy, with the humour and wit keeping it from falling into schmaltzy sentimentality.

If there is one thing I will take from this book, it will be: you live 25,000 days, make sure you remember some them.


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