Book Reviews

Book Review: The Humans

By Matt Haig

Published 2013

304 Pages

Obviously, not a new novel but I started 2021 with a Matt Haig novel and decided to finish 2021 with one as well.  

Narrated by an unnamed extraterrestrial, The Humans offers a poignant and often comedic look at humankind in general and one family in particular. 

Cambridge mathematician Andrew Martin has solved a formula that will provide untold technological advances to the human race.  Unfortunately for him, an immortal alien race with a dim view of Earth decides humans aren’t ready for this technology and erase him from existence.  The narrator is sent to clean up Martin’s mess – i.e., kill anyone who may have been told about his discovery.  

Arriving naked in the guise of Andrew Martin, the narrator’s mission is immediately complicated by being arrested for indecent exposure and committal to a psychiatric ward.  Once out, he raises Martin’s wife’s suspicions that all is not normal with her husband (the alien is nicer than Martin ever was).  While going about his grisly duties, the narrator finds himself resistant to killing Martin’s family but cannot admit to his handlers that he’s growing fond of them.  As he attempts to reconcile these feelings with his duty, he discovers an affinity for peanut butter, poetry, music, and the family dog.  Ultimately, he realizes that being human may hold more appeal than he’d ever anticipated.

I really, really enjoyed this novel.  The voice pulled me in from the first chapter as well as the sheer imagination of the premise.  Utterly page-turning, I stayed up way too late on more than one night reading and, at times, laughing out loud.  I sympathized with Martin’s long-suffering wife and silently cheered the narrator’s evolution from snobby, immortal extraterrestrial to a sympathetic and heroic being.

A really good read.  If you missed this one, I highly recommend picking it up.  As a side note, I read that he sold the film rights to The Humans, but I can’t find where the movie has ever been developed.  However, The Midnight Library, one of my few five-star reviews for 2021, IS in production so I’m excited for that!

I rated this novel four stars.  ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.

I’m sure the universe is full of intelligent life. It’s just been too intelligent to come here.

Arthur C. Clarke

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