What’s it all about?:
Body-snatching has never been so heartwarming . . .
The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves. Combine Douglas Adams’ irreverent take on life, the universe and everything with a genuinely moving love story, and you have some idea of the humour, originality and poignancy of Matt Haig’s latest novel.
Our hero, Professor Andrew Martin, is dead before the book even begins. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t a very nice man—as the alien imposter who now occupies his body discovers. Sent to Earth to destroy evidence that Andrew had solved a major mathematical problem, the alien soon finds himself learning more about the professor, his family and “the humans” than he ever expected. When he begins to fall for his own wife and son—who have no idea he’s not the real Andrew—he must choose between completing his mission and returning home, or finding a new home, right here on Earth.
What did I think?:
After enjoying Matt Haig’s previous novel The Radleys, I was excited to be approved on NetGalley for his latest compelling novel, so many thanks to them and to Simon and Schuster publishing. Our main character, Professor Andrew Martin, is a mathematical genius and workaholic. When he solves a major mathematical problem, an alien lifeform invades, kills him and inhabits his body. The task for the alien now is to make sure that the Professor has not told anyone about his discovery, destroy any evidence related to the theory and eliminate the wife and son. This is because the aliens believe the solving of this hypothesis would lead to an exponential boom in scientific advancements and further enable space travel.
From the very beginning, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. Matt Haig presents a hilarious overview of what an alien visitor would think of our world and of our species in general. He learns the value of clothes (quite important when you are naked around strangers and they are looking at you oddly), and that spitting at someone is NOT a greeting – funnily enough. Initially, our visitor is skeptical of all our customs and ideals, and questions everything while still masquerading as the Professor. After being admitted to a mental institution briefly for acting oddly and running around without clothes, he strives to understand the humans, and realises he must put up a better pretence if he is to succeed in his mission. What does become a problem, is when he starts to comprehend what being human is all about, which could jeopardize everything.
This is a beautifully told story with some real laugh out loud and poignant moments as the alien Professor learns about the person he is supposed to be, and discovers the fragility of his relationship with his wife and son. Told from the point of view of the alien, it was written in such a way that the reader feels that they are an exclusive part of his world, and sympathetic to his complaints and queries. Yes, there are a few mathematical moments, which filled me initially with terror, being somewhat of a maths-hater, but they were written in such an accessible and interesting way that I had no need to worry. As a result, Matt Haig is definitely on my radar and auto-buy list for the future.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):