The narrator of this tale is no ordinary human—in fact, he’s not human at all. Before he was sent away from the distant planet he calls home, precision and perfection governed his life. He lived in a utopian society where mathematics transformed a people, creating limitless knowledge and immortality.
But all of this is suddenly threatened when an earthly being opens the doorway to the same technology that the alien planet possesses. Cambridge University professor Andrew Martin cracks the Reimann Hypothesis and unknowingly puts himself and his family in grave danger when the narrator is sent to Earth to erase all evidence of the solution and kill anyone who has seen the proof. The only catch: the alien has no idea what he’s up against.
Disgusted by the excess of disease, violence, and family strife he encounters, the narrator struggles to pass undetected long enough to gain access to Andrew’s research. But in picking up the pieces of the professor’s shattered personal life, the narrator sees hope and redemption in the humans’ imperfections and begins to question the very mission that brought him there.
Author: Matt Haig
Length: 304 pages
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Having discovered the secret of the Riemann hypothesis, of prime numbers, of the universe and life itself, Professor Andrew Martin is a threat to the Vonnadorians: a logical, mathmatical race of aliens advanced far beyond humans. Horrified by humans’ backward and violent seeming nature, the Vonnadorians are determined to prevent Andrew Martin’s discovery becoming public and unleashing the secrets of their technology on a species obviously incapable of handling it.
To safeguard the secret, the Vonnadorians send an unnamed narrator to Earth to assassinate Andrew Martin, destroy all evidence of his discovery and infiltrate his life long enough to ensure the Professor didn’t share his knowledge with anyone else.
Unfortunately, apparently even super-advanced alien races sometimes make mistakes. Our narrator wakes up in Andrew Martin’s body as predicted, but not in Andrew Martin’s office at Cambridge University as planned. Instead, he wakes up on the M11, naked, disorientated and baffled by everything about human life. From there, he undergoes a serious of hilarious social disasters, gradually learning more about humans as he attempts to imitate Professor Martin.
The Humans is really, truly funny. Full of genuinely hilarious thoughts on everything about human life from clothes to television, Matt Haig’s writing is sure to brighten even the gloomiest day. There are some poignant reflections on human nature and our destruction of the planet, but there are also lots of heart-warming reflections on what it truly means to be a human.
You could be forgiven for taking a quick glance of the blurb and deciding this is a book about aliens. However, it’s not, at all. It’s a book, exactly as the title says, about humans. It’s about balancing relationships and not quite fitting in. About learning to appreciate the little things in life and not losing sight of the big things. It’s about love and pain and all the emotions that make us human.
The plot can at times be predictable, but the fantastic writing and the little detours Matt Haig takes along the way keep the book fresh and engaging. It’ll have you dying to read on just a little bit more and pausing to read out particularly funny lines (or at least it will if you’re anything like me!). The final chapter, entitled advice for a human, had whole sections I’d like to print out and put on my wall as instructions to live by. All in all, The Humans is inspiring, hilarious, heart-warming and insightful.
Buy it? This is definitely worth a re-read, and so for me, it’s worth buying.
In a nutshell: A brilliantly written, truly funny tale of an alien who discovers what it means to be human.