The Humans by Matt Haig

Genre: Science-fiction

Originally Published: 2014

No. of Pages: 320

Matt Haig’s The Humans is an unexpected tale on the complicated human nature and what matters most in life. Written in Haig’s familiar and accessible prose, The Humans is an addictive novel that will keep you guessing and stay with you for a long time after. 

The premise of the novel centres on Professor Andrew Martin, a mathematical genius who has recently solved a world changing equation. With this knowledge, it will provide the key to the universe, unlocking its mysteries and unravelling its theories, and thereby causing a huge leap in the progression of mankind and technology. 

Across the universe, the alien civilisation named the Vonnadorians, are alerted of this knowledge. Thinking that such valuable secrets and superior knowledge cannot be trusted by the backward and violent species of Humans, a Vonnadorian is sent to planet earth in order to obliterate all evidence of Martin and his discovery. 

Through the eyes of the alien, Haig delivers a humorous and insightful commentary on the human existence, weaving both dark and hopeful elements that make the novel hard to put down. One comical moment sees the alien experiencing an intense hangover, whilst another presents a quiet and meaningful moment as the alien sits alone with his pet dog. 

As Haig strikes the perfect balance between poignant and comedic moments, he also successfully explores the full scale of human emotions. Stepping into a new life on earth, the alien experiences vivid fear and anxiety within the new environment, which later transforms into excitement and pleasure, and finally to experiencing ennui where the alien becomes introspective about life. 

Throughout the novel, the alien also navigates tricky familial relationships and challenges the lengths he would go to repair broken relationships. Not only is The Humans a science-fiction novel for those who don’t typically read science fiction, but it is also a tender romance and drama novel, offering sentimental teachings and quotable one-liners.

Overall, The Humans is a powerful and moving tale that stipulates a somewhat existential anxiety on the true meaning of life, yet also challenges the reader to change their perspective. Ultimately, Haig highlights that the small, often mundane, moments of life, are what matters the most, and I think that’s something that we can all take away. 

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