Aliens, humor, England. On the surface The Humans by Matt Haig sounds like a rip off of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but dig deeper and you find a beautiful story that is very different from HHGG and one that never disappoints.
- Title: The Humans
- Author: Matt Haig (Twitter @matthaig1)
- Genre: Sci-Fi, Comedy, Non-Stuffy Literary
- ISBN: 978 0 85786 878 7 (paperback)
Professor Andrew Martin has figured out an equation that answers the riddle of prime numbers. Unfortunately, an alien species has been keeping tabs on his work and fears that if humans gain the knowledge of prime numbers all hell will break loose in the universe. So, they send one of their members to Earth to “replace” Andrew (kill him and take over his body) and to do away with anyone he has told about the equation.
Although the new Andrew Martin starts out ready and willing to complete his mission, the time it takes for him to figure out who knows about the equation requires him to live with Andrew’s family. At first he finds the family (and all humans) grotesque and idiotic, but eventually he comes to care for his new family and to understand what it means to be human.
Over the course of his self-discovery, he falls in love with his (well, human Andrew’s wife), gives his (Andrew’s) neglected son some much needed confidence and attention, and learns the joy of peanut butter sandwiches. His superiors are watching and aren’t convinced “Andrew” will complete his mission…and they become less and less tolerant of his excuses. When they send in reinforcements, Andrew proves whose side he has chosen.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that had me laughing at the beginning, cheering for a guy who may or may not kill an innocent family in the middle, and crying at the end. Not an I’m-so-sad or this-book-is-horrible crying; more of a poignant cry like when you hear a really good piece of music. When you get to the “Advice for a human” chapter, you’ll know what I mean. After all, how can you not be touched by advice such as, “At some point, bad things are going to happen. Have someone to hold on to.”?
I can’t recommend this book enough. I picked it up (one of my Waterstones purchases in London) because I thought it would be funny. It was. But it was also so much more.
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TAMMIE PAINTER IS THE AUTHOR OF THE TRIALS OF HERCULES: BOOK ONE OF THE OSTERIA CHRONICLES AND AN ARTIST WHO DEDICATES HERSELF TO THE TEDIUM OF CREATING IMAGES WITH COLORED PENCILS.