Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Humans by Matt Haig

review by Maryom

 Professor Andrew Martin has solved the world's greatest mathematical riddle, the Reimann hypothesis. What he didn't realise was that out in Space, track was being kept of his research and findings. Someone out there doesn't consider Humans psychologically ready to receive mathematical knowledge of this magnitude, so Andrew Martin is removed quietly and an alien slipped into his body; his mission to find and destroy any evidence of the real Martin's discovery, and to eliminate anyone he may have passed information on to.

The idea of re-discovering and examining our world from the perspective of an Alien is not a new one: there are lots of films and books that have used it; The Day the Earth Stood Still, Starman, K Pax, Stranger in a Strange Land - I could probably go on for far too long. I don't think I've found any of them to be as funny as The Humans though. Trying to interpret the world from his brief reading of Cosmopolitan, the new 'Andrew Martin' struggles with the the inconsistencies and contradictions of human behaviour, with hilarious results. It's not all fun and laughter - 'Andrew Martin' has his task to complete; a task which becomes harder as he gets to know Martin's family. At first he finds Earth to be a dismal, repulsive place and its inhabitants much the same, but gradually through music, poetry and peanut butter sandwiches he begins to understand what exactly it is to be Human - and what Humans have that his more advanced, logical race lack.

 The Humans is a difficult book to pin down and categorise - sci-fi? comedy? Well, it definitely has aliens and it's undoubtedly funny but it's not Mars Attacks. Behind the surface humour lie serious thoughts about what makes life worth living. I'm not sure I'd agree with the specifics - neither classical music or peanut butter is my king of thing! - but if you've ever felt 'What's the point?' then maybe The Humans can give you some suggestions.

I must admit to being a bit worried in the latter stages that things were heading towards a simplistic over sentimental ending but it thankfully managed to pull up short of it.

An engaging, quirky story that will appeal to adults and teens alike - though no one will ever convince me of the delights of peanut butter!

Maryom's Review - 4 stars
Publisher - Canongate
Genre - Adult/teen crossover, Sci-fi, Humour

Buy The Humans from Amazon

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