The Humans – Matt Haig

The HumansBook Review By Grace Heine

Title: The Humans
Written by: Matt Haig
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Paperback: 304 pages

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 somebody, and save them. It is about love and dead poets and wholenut peanut butter. It’s about matter and antimatter, everything and nothing, hope and hate. It’s about a forty-one-year-old female historian called Isobel and her fifteen-year-old son called Gulliver and the cleverest mathematician in the world. It is, in short, about how to become a human.” (page 5)

*In order for this to be less confusing, the human Andrew Martin will be referred to as Andrew(H) while our protagonist will simply be Andrew*

Our nameless protagonist is an alien who comes to earth in the body of an abducted Professor in order to remove all proof of the Riemann hypothesis. (Which, in case you’re wondering, is the pattern for prime numbers.) Although Andrew knows little of the human culture, he plans to masquerade as Andrew Martin(H) until he can complete his task and then return to his planet lightyears away. However, things don’t go as planned as he finds a bond forming between himself and the humans. Andrew must now decide whether to merely exist or live life to the fullest.

I just read another amazing book about prime numbers (check out the other one: HERE)– and as much as I hope that this year will not be classified as “The Year I Read Books that Made Me Like Math,” if the books I read keep being so good – I might be okay with it.

The Humans is a witty book that struck home for me in several personal ways. The book asks deep, theological questions such as: what does it mean to be a human? A mortal collection of atoms arranged in patterns, or something more? Is there propose to our life, or do we just sit here for 30,000 days waiting to die? Not very many books (that I’ve read) tackle such universal questions and The Humans gets at least part of the answer right:

We are here to love and be loved.

While this is a beautiful and true statement, what the author doesn’t address is: are we merely intelligent organisms capable of love, or something more? I believe we are much more, however Matt Haig has left this question open.

Again, I will state that I loved this book but there were several plot points which made me want to rewrite the whole thing. Andrew(H) was having an affair, and – while that is certainly a terrible thing – at the start of the book Andrew(H) is dead so there is absolutely no reason for Andrew to continue having this affair. Yet he does, and it ruins the family he has worked so hard for. There are other situations I could mention but I risk spoiling the plot if I do.

Until I got to the affair scene, I would have thrust The Humans into the hands of everyone I knew and sat with them until they read the whole thing. Now I will tell anyone who asks:

The Humans is a great book – but it has problems.

However, I will recommend this book to older teens and adults who like books about aliens visiting Earth and who can handle intense swearing and inappropriate themes.

For more Information on the Book and the Author Click: HERE

Age Range: Adults and mature teenagers.

Cautions – *Contains Slight Spoilers*

Violence: We are told Andrew Martin(H) was killed. Our protagonist kills a man by using “alien powers” and kills another man by stabbing and burning him. Another man is killed “off stage” – but not by Andrew. Andrew is beat up twice. A woman talks about her abusive boyfriends. Isobel scratches Andrew’s face until he bleeds.

Sensuality: Our protagonist kisses Andrew Martin’s(H) wife. He sleeps with her, as well as a student at Cambridge College who Andrew(H) was having an affair with.

Profanity: Think of every profane word you know then add three more and they’re all in here. God’s name is taken in vain several times.

Other (drugs/alcohol): Andrew drinks wine/gets drunk. He talks with a homeless drunk and several other characters drink. Andrew lies to Isobel and Gulliver about who he really is, and at certain times, about where he has been. When he first arrives on Earth, Andrew is unclothed and describes how several human body parts look weird. Andrew(H) was just a plain terrible person and largely ignored his wife and son. A character attempts suicide multiple times. Andrew spends a few days in a mental ward. Throughout the course of the book the meaning of life is pondered over.

Personal Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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Check out my other reviews at Her Homeschooled Highness Reviews blog!

Grace Heine is a 17-year-old wanna be writer who spends most of her time reading, writing, playing piano, or finding clever ways to be unproductive. You can visit her book review blog here.

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