The Humans – Matt Haig

About the book: 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’s irreverent take on life, the universe, and everything with a genuinely moving love story, and you have some idea of the humor, originality, and poignancy of Matt Haig’s 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–the alien must choose between completing his mission and returning home or finding a new home right here on Earth.

My Review:  If someone told me to read a book about a body snatching alien with an interest in Prime Numbers and Mathematics I probably would ignore them, laugh and then avoid them forever.  However, I’m on a mission to read as many wonderful books as possible published over the past 10 years and The Humans kept popping up on recommended book posts.  I admit I didn’t actually read the blurb and it’s possible if I did that I wouldn’t have read The Humans ever.

The Humans is narrated by an unnamed alien from a planet in a galaxy far, far, far, far, far away who has arrived on Earth and taken over the body of a Maths Professor who has discovered the answer to the world’s greatest mathematics riddle involving Prime Numbers which could actually destroy mankind…. still with me here?  Good.  So this alien (let’s call him Andrew #2) believes that all Humans are ugly, aggressive, greedy, selfish and of low intelligence and his mission is to remove any evidence of Andrew #1’s discovery including killing Andrew’s family and work colleagues.

What Andrew #2 doesn’t expect is to “feel“, but he does.  He begins to experience empathy, emotion, love, understanding, pain, frustration and above all sees what being a “human” really means.  This book is a beautifully written observation about being human.  There were some incredibly touching moments, some laugh out loud and cringing parts and some incredibly powerful thought-provoking messages.

About the author: Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 25 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning The Radleys and The Humans.

He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.

His books have received praise from Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry, Jeanette Winterson, Joanne Harris, Patrick Ness, Ian Rankin and SJ Watson, among others. The Guardian summed up his writing as ‘funny, clever and quite, quite lovely’ by The Times and the New York Times called him ‘a writer of great talent’.

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