BOOK REVIEW: THE HUMANS BY MATT HAIG

THE HUMANS

GENERAL INFORMATION 

TITLE: THE HUMANS

AUTHOR: MATT HAIG

PAGES: 294

PUBLISHER: CANONGATE   

YEAR: 2013

GENRE: SCIENCE FICTION

COVER TYPE: HARD BACK

www.amazon.co.uk/The-Humans-Matt-Haig/dp/0857868764

www.matthaig.com

BLURB FROM THE BACK COVER 

ONE WET FRIDAY EVENING Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world’s greatest mathematical riddle. Then he disappears. 

When he is found walking naked along the motorway, Professor Martin seems different. Besides the lack of clothes, he now finds normal life pointless. His loving wife and teenage son seem repulsive to him. In fact, he hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton. And he’s a dog. 

Can a bit of Debussy and Emily Dickenson keep him from murder? Can the species which invented cheap white wine and peanut butter sandwiches be all that bad? And what is the warm feeling he gets when he looks into his wife’s eyes?  

THE OPENING LINE 

So, what is this?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

The Humans is a brilliant novel. It’s one of the best things I’ve read in a long time. It’s funny, sad, touching and sort of beautiful. I laughed until I cried when I read some parts of it. The Humans is almost as good as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I loved it. I might have to buy myself a copy to and adore over and over.

REVIEW

The Humans is narrated by an alien who’s been sent to earth to take over Professor Martin’s body. His task is to destroy any evidence Martin’s solved a famous riddle because the human race isn’t ready for the knowledge this creates. The alien also has to destroy any human Martin told about his discovery. I thought Haig’s concept for The Human was impressive and original.

The Humans is one of the funniest novels I’ve read in a long time. I laughed so much I cried and almost pissed my pants at some parts. Especially the first 100 or so pages. The alien wearing Professor Martin’s body wanders down a motorway completely naked. People yell at it from passing cars and spit at it. The alien thinks spitting is form of greeting and spits back. It goes into a petrol station and eats and drinks a lot of food before stealing a map. The alien is finally apprehended by police. Professor Martin is famous and the police ask the alien why he’d naked. It tells the police clothes are restrictive and prevent it from having a tantric orgasm. I almost ended myself when I read that.

The alien’s interpretation of earth and human behaviour was hilarious. It read a copy of Cosmopolitan and thought our ultimate goal was an orgasm. This led the alien to believe churches were temples to the orgasm. The alien’s wry observation and interpretation of human behaviour was spot on. We humans are a crazy beautiful bunch.

I fell in love with The Humans before I reached the end of the first page. I couldn’t put it down. Literally. I read the whole thing in one sitting. It’s been a while since I got so engrossed in a novel.

The alien decides humans are pretty cool and not the primitive creatures driven by greed and violence it’s been led to believe and decides to remain on earth living inside the body of Professor Martin. The Humans was even more enjoyable from the point. Prior to this the alien was merely a hitchhiker inside Professor Martin’s body. The alien had powers including mind control and healing. The decision to remain on earth is granted and the alien becomes fully human with no powers. The alien felt every ache and pain and suddenly became hopeless. I loved reading about the alien struggling to be fully human. This was very funny as well but quite emotional and touching. 

The Humans is written in the first person and narrated by the alien. This worked really well. I felt I got real personal insight into viewing the strange, primitive world of humans. I don’t think The Humans would have been as enjoyable written in the third person.

I liked the pace of The Humans. I didn’t think events moved too fast or too slow. I think everything happened in exactly the right order and at the right speed. I wasn’t bored, not once. Every word was a joy to read.

I thought it was very touching when the alien started to gradually become more and more human. The alien developed a bond with the family dog Newton and liked to take him for walks. The alien made love to Professor Martin’s wife, Isobel. The alien had fun at a football match. I thought this was very moving.

One of the funniest scenes is when Maggie, a student Professor Martin was having an affair with takes the alien to a seedy bar. They both get drunk and go to her flat. They’re in the process of having sex and the alien feels sick and leaves. The alien tells Isobel about this who promptly chucks him out of the martial bed and house. I felt sorry for the alien. It really had no idea it had done anything wrong. Hilarious.  

FINAL THOUGHTS

I picked The Humans up on impulse in the library. I’m glad I did. The Humans is brilliant, mad, sad, beautiful and brilliant. I now have to read more of Matt Haig’s novels to see if anything else he’s written is this good.  

RATING

5 STAR RATING

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