Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

The Humans

The Humans: Matt Haig, February 23—March 2, 2016

My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊

TheHumansAn unnamed alien narrates his adventure on Earth in The Humans. Our protagonist inhabits the body of Professor Andrew Martin, who has recently answered the Riemann Question, relating to the distance between prime numbers. The aliens think this knowledge is damaging to the human race, and the wider universe, and set about to destroy all trace of it before it’s too late.

It’s somewhat tricky to pigeon-hole precisely what this book is about. It’s a wee bit sci-fi (the lead is an alien, after all). It’s a wee bit murdery, and it’s a wee bit love story. It’s a wee bit everything, and it’s apt given the title.

The concept of an alien looking at our world has been done before, but Haig’s approach is incredibly refreshing. Not-Andrew-Martin assumes that we are motivated by money and are inherently violent. But as he spends more time on earth, he begins to see the better side of human nature. It’s an uplifting variation on a theme that is tinged with optimism.

There is plenty of humour, whether from Not-Andrew-Martin misunderstanding British custom, or from his matter-of-fact narrative. But it also tugs at the heartstrings, particularly as he bonds with his victim’s family. And, strangely, despite the fact he has murdered the husband and father of the people he bonds with, he never comes across as the villain.

The Humans is a warm and funny tale with numerous subplots but one major question: what does it really mean to be human? The answer might not be so bad as you, and he, first expect.

Thanks to Jennifer Ellis for the recommendation.


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This entry was posted on March 2, 2016 by in 4 star and tagged .

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@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare