The Humans Review

Monday, 6 July 2015

I finished reading The Humans by Matt Haig. This is my spoiler-free review.


The Humans follows an unnamed alien who has been sent to Earth in order to take over the body of Professor Andrew Martin who recently solved the great mathematical problem, the Riemann hypothesis. It is the aliens job to destroy all evidence of his discovery to prevent humans abusing their new found knowledge. He is told that the humans are creatures full of greed and violence but upon arriving, the alien begins to learn that perhaps there is more to the humans than he initially believed.


I found that throughout the book, I was very aware that this was a somewhat clichéd idea, reminiscent of many sci-fi plot lines. It reminded me of Doctor Who in that an alien being comes to Earth in the knowledge that he is superior to human being who are little more than animals. And then he slowly comes to learn that maybe humans are not so bad as he thought. Yes, they're violent and angry and greedy and whatever other derogatory adjectives you want to throw around. But in them, there are glimmers of hope to be found and their ability to love and care sets them apart from so many other creatures.

Basing your novel on a cliched idea doesn't have to be a bad thing however. It works in this novel and I did enjoy it. There were parts of it that didn't work and fell flat, but for the most part, this is a fun read. It is a book that aims to make the reader see the beauty of life, the moments that are overlooked in everyday life. It is a book that says, yes life is rife with tragedy but it is also so full of wonder. The Humans is for those who have become cynical and jaded by life.

The characters and their situation felt somewhat stereotypical and again clichéd. Isobel, Andrew's wife, is a downtrodden wife; we are shown that before Andrew Martin's body is taken over, the relationship was on the brink of collapse. His son Gulliver seems to embody an old-fashioned view of teenagers, that is a moody, withdrawn boy. I never quite bought into (spoilers ahead) the idea that he was suicidal either. It seemed only to be a way for the alien to sympathise with him and to learn about the idea of mortality. However, despite this, I still enjoyed reading about these characters and their lives.

Whilst I enjoyed this novel, I doubt I would read it again and it's certainly not my favourite attempt to discuss the beauty of being human. I can see why some people would despise it but also why others would adore it. I've rated this novel 3.5 below but my actual rating would probably fall between 3.5 and 4.


Thanks for reading!

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