Review: The Humans – Matt Haig

Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: 2nd July 2013

Started Reading: 06/01/2018
Finished Reading: 07/01/2018

‘You have a lot more days to live. About twenty-four thousand more days to live, probably. That’s a lot of moments. You could do many great things in that time. You could read a lot of poetry.

I’m not a sci-fi reader at all. I will go to all costs just to avoid it. But The Humans is an exception that I am glad I made. It is a heartwarming, hilarious and thought-provoking read that I am glad I picked up.

The Humans is a sci-fi/fantasy/humour/romance novel that focuses on the life of Professor Andrew Martin. The novel begins with Andrew awakening naked in an unfamiliar place. However, Andrew is not Andrew. He has been killed and his body taken over by an alien from a strange planet who has come to the earth on a mission to undo the progress the professor has made on solving the Reimann hypothesis.

Andrew is found naked and walking the streets of Cambridge, confused and not his normal self. This is all put down to a mental break down because of the stress he has been under at work, and nobody suspects a thing. The biggest challenge to the alien is living without raising suspicion over who he really is whilst carrying out the tasks he was sent to complete on Earth.

To begin with, I wasn’t sure whether to find The Humans troubling or entertaining. It’s funny right from the start (I mean, what’s not funny about a naked man roaming the street?) but also raises important questions within the first few pages. This is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in the past few years, and there wasn’t one point where I wasn’t questioning what was happening and its relation to the real world.

I wasn’t sure whether to take this alien-disguised-as-a-human thing in a 3rd Rock From The Sun (or, for my generation, My Parents Are Aliens) sort of way, or whether to see it as having a deeper meaning. It was funny to see an alien’s first impression of Earth, especially since his initial understanding of the planet came from reading Cosmo in a garage. It was hilarious to see him get himself into all of these ridiculous situations throughout the first chapter and was definitely laugh-out-loud funny.

But then it got more serious. Andrew finds himself in a mental hospital after the police caught him naked, and it is suggested that he is suffering from a sort of mental breakdown. We know that it is just that he isn’t Andrew, he’s an alien. But this raises a question of mental illness. Could Andrew have still been Andrew and just suffering from a severe mental breakdown, causing delusions? As far as we know, the whole novel could be Andrews view of the world through a mental illness, depicted as if he was an alien viewing a completely unfamiliar world.

I love how open Matt Haig always is on mental health, having already read Reasons to Stay Alive and How to Stop Time, and it is typically his style to portray mental health in a way like this.

‘Your life will have 25,000 days in it. Make sure you remember some of them.’

The whole novel is beautiful and poetic (and not just because of the Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare quotes throughout) and shows the pain of falling in love for the first time, and losing love for the first time. It shows the commitment of giving everything up for love and then losing absolutely everything you have ever had. It shows the brilliance of the sunset and sunrise and the beauty of the human species.

It’s a truly amazing book. That’s all I can say.

Want to read it?

Get it in the UK here, and the US here.

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