Book Review: – The Humans


The Humans is billed as a humorous science fiction tale reveals what it is to be human. Although it is a story of alien invasion it seems more like magical realism. The starting point is that an alien, who doesn’t understand what makes us tick, has been catapulted into the body of Professor Andrew Martin, a mathematician who thinks he is on the verge of a breakthrough in the solving of the Reimann Hypothesis. The alien’s task is to eradicate any evidence of the proof including taking out anyone with an inkling of its existence.  In his disguise, he slowly forges bonds with Martin’s family, and in picking up the pieces of the professor’s shattered personal life, he begins to see hope and beauty in the humans’ imperfections and begins to question the mission that brought him there.

Online reviewer Riku Sayuj says

“So we are given a picture of how alien the human race is at first glance, and how familiarity is the only way to reconcile with the many contradictions of the human condition, and how when you then look back, it is impossible to identify what exact elements turned you off in the beginning. While this is in an alien-human context in this book, this process is also applicable to any new encounter with an ‘alien’ culture among us humans too.”

I personally found the early chapters of this book hard to get into.  I didn’t warm to the alien (maybe that wasn’t the idea – after all he is alien and was supposed to be warming to us!), however the rest of the group enjoyed the book particularly the humour, although some thought the transformation was a bit sudden. It is sentimental it is written with a light touch and illustrates that beauty is in the small details (peanut butter).

The list of advice for Martin’s son Gulliver was much appreciated by the group with some favourites being: “If you are laughing, check that you don’t really want to cry.”; “If there is a sunset stop and look at it. Knowledge is finite. Wonder is infinite.” and “Peanut butter sandwiches go perfectly well with a glass of white wine.” The main message taken was – keep going and you’ll get there.

Matt Haig is author of a number of novels as well as a non-fiction title ‘Reasons to stay alive”. He has struggled with depression in the past and found writing provided a way out for him.