Book Review: The Humans by Matt Haig
December 6, 2013 8 Comments
From the publishers: “It’s hardest to belong when you’re closest to home . . .
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 Dickinson 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 Humans: What I thought
What does it mean to be human? Who better to show you than an alien in the body of a human? In this case, a mathematics professor who has proved the Riemann hypothesis. Now, that is bad news for the universe, because with this knowledge, the humans could do a lot of damage. So, this unnamed alien has come from his beautiful, perfect and logical planet to kill everyone who is aware of the proof of the hypothesis.
First to be killed is the professor himself, and the alien takes his body. He discovers how extremely ugly humans are, how illogical and emotional (he is used to very logical thinking which is not clouded by any emotion). And especially, how awful their food is. The only friend he makes is the dog, Newton, who he can sort of converse with.
He discovers all kinds of things about humans, often things that we human readers know well enough, but never really think about. He also discovers a lot about human relationships, given that he is plunged into the professor’s family life, with a wife, Isobel, and a son, Gulliver. Soon, they actually like him better than the original professor, although they of course have no idea he’s not him.
He begins to find it more and more difficult to kill the remaining humans who know about the professor’s discovery. In fact, he starts to like being human.
This is a wonderful story about humans and humanity, laugh out loud funny at times, and sad at others.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)
Number of pages: 294
First published: 2013
I got this: from the author in a Twitter competition
Genre: contemporary fiction, speculative fiction, science fiction
Extra: I also read The Radleys (*****) by Matt Haig