Book Review: The Humans

As much as I like talking about the wonderfully dark events taking place in London, there is nothing I enjoy more than a good book. Call me a bit of a geek, but gaming and books have always been a favourite pastime of mine. Like with most things with me, I like a variety of books, ranging from non-fiction, to thrillers and of course, sci-fi. My favourite writers of all time include Douglas Adams and Kurt Vonnegut, so that should give you a flavour of what books I tend to read the most.

Whilst browsing at the Daunt Book store in St Paul’s (I firmly support independent bookshops) I was talking to one of the assistant, asking him what he would recommend if my favourite book was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He mentioned Matt Haig which I must admit, was a new name for me, and he said that The Humans should be a good start for me.

The Humans tell the story of an alien from Vonnadoria who assassinates and takes over the body of Cambridge Professor Andrew Martin in order to destroy all evidence of his ground breaking discovery into the secrets of prime numbers. His mission is simple; destroy all evidence including the professor’s family and anyone who may know about this discovery. If you have ever read The Hitchhiker’s then you can instantly tell how this book belongs in the same league.

The first I must mention is that this book is funny. From the alien trying to decipher our language by reading Cosmo, to trying to understand our need of clothes, meat and square buildings – this book is out-of-the-box-thinking with the ability to magnificently captivate the irony of humans. I did not smile reading this book, I was laughing out loud with tears running down my face. It is humour at it best and it is clever.

The alien’s efforts to try to blend in with his wife and son offer insights into what makes us human and how weird and complicated our rationale can be. The wife and son are unable to tell the difference at first but grow weary as this alien becomes an improved version of the professor he assassinated. Through his mission, the alien goes from despising humans, to understanding and even emphasising with them.

The first part of the book has a very similar tone to Hitchhikers or Breakfast for Champions – it is satire at its best. It is clever and thought-provoking while keeping it light and humorous. The third act does go a bit on the corny/soft side, but in a way that feels heart-warming and satisfying. My favourite part of the book is towards the end, when the alien decides to write to his ‘son’ 97 pieces of advice. It is utterly brilliant (No.40: ‘Everyone is a comedy. If people are laughing at you they just don’t quite understand the joke that is themselves’.)

This is a book I recommend anyone to read. It is brilliantly written, with well-developed characters and a plot that is clever and refreshing. The pace is spot on, and you will find finishing it in no time but wanting to re-read it straight after.

Matt Haig….Bravo!

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