Book Title: The Humans
Author: Matt Haig
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd 2013
Page Count: 310
Genre: All of them :)
Audience: The Human Race
Buy? Read? Avoid?: Buy
Summed up in one word: Existence
Author Bio: A York based author who writes novels, screenplays, children's novels and journalism. Matt Haig has written best selling novels that have been translated into 29 different languages. He is a genius in my eyes! To see more on Matt Haig and his books click here
First Impression: This is my book of the year. This is the ultimate existential experience. Following the alien on a journey through a tour of our existence, our place in the universe, our thoughts, actions and emotions is a special experience. It is also incredibly hilarious!
"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 someone and save them. It is about love and dead poets and wholenut peanut butter. It is about matter and anti matter, everything and nothing, hope and hate. It is about a forty one year old female historian called Isobel and her fifteen year old son Gulliver and the cleverest mathematician in the world. It is, in short, about how to become human." (Quote from The Humans by Matt Haig)
Story: The Humans is a cracking story. A mathematician call Andrew Martin discovers proof of the Riemann Hypothesis and an alien race who have been monitoring our progress as a species does not want earth to have this information. They kidnap Martin and replacing him with an alien replica. This aliens job is to wipe out any traces of this discovery and kill anyone who may know anything about it. The story has copious amounts of charm, humour, sarcasm, emotion and spirit. I found myself deeply engaged with this text, it made me laugh, smile and cry. The outside perspective of the alien really works and makes the reader think about themselves and the world as a whole.
Characters: The reader spends all his time with the alien, viewing everyone through his interactions with them. The alien is a blank slate when it comes to humans, he only discovers and learns things about us as he goes along and it is amazingly funny, charming and bizarre. The alien starts off as an objective goon who wants to get his job done and get away. Over the course of the story he falls in love with what it is to be a good human and ultimately makes the right choice. The other characters in this book work well alongside this alien. Gulliver, the moody teenager, Isobel, the unloved wife who wants to be seen and many others. At no point did I feel any urgh or blahhh when I spent time with any of the characters here.
Themes: Every theme imaginable, this book is about love, about war, about family, race, sex, life and death. Everyone will find a way to connect with this material. The author has been through a lot to bring this story to us, he has put his heart and soul into this piece and it shows.
Likes: All of it (I know this is a bit of a cop out but I want to state that this is one of the best books I have read). The alien is hilarious. His interactions with us are brilliant. I did not stop smiling and this is such a quotable book. For example:
"You see, the Language of words was only one of the human Languages. There are many others, as I have pointed out. The Language of sighs, the Language of silent moments and most significantly, the Language of frowns." (Quote from The Humans by Matt Haig)
Dislikes: That is was not longer....that it is not a trilogy.... a few mathematical equations that I did not understand but really wanted to. In my own opinion, there is not much wrong with this text. It is serious and silly, poetic, philosophical and literal.
Rating: This is a special book and it deserves a place on any book shelf. Matt Haig is a true artist and talented wordsmith. I have already got most of his books on order right now and they too look amazing and will be making their way to these pages very soon. Go and buy this book, it is set in England but it is relevant everywhere, it is relevant to us as human beings.