Review: The Humans – Matt Haig.

Body-snatching has never been so heartwarming . . .

Professor Andrew Martin has a unique trait for a central character – he’s dead before the book even starts. Inhabited by an alien from Vonnadoria, Andrew Martin – or the being living inside of him – has to destroy all the evidence of his solution to the Riemann hypothesis, a mathematical discovery that would change the world – an one that the aliens don’t feel primitive creatures such as humans are ready for.

It turns out, though, that Andrew Martin isn’t such a nice guy – so consumed with his work, his son Gulliver has an inferiority complex about being a genius’ son, one who never has time for him; his wife feels distant, finding joy when she finds him watching TV, so unlike him. Then there’s the mistress, the cherry on top of the horrible cake that is the Professor.

But this being inside him isn’t the same. He comes with a mission and no knowledge other than the logical facts of humans. He reads Cosmopolitan to learn the language, and in turn a little about what makes humans tick (apparently the orgasm is the main goal of life, which is fair given the source material). But humans aren’t all that bad, and they make him feel emotions he’ never considered – basically, anything outside of base logic is new to him, and it provokes the moral question – can he kill to complete his mission, or explore this world as he seems to desire?

It sounds like it could be a bit lovey dovey – an extraterrestrial falling in love with glimpses of Earth and breaking down his preconceived notions. But it’s not lovey dovey at all; it’s inexplicably funny, in the way that Hitchhiker’s Guide is, but with an alien who tells it like it is without realising what the implications are.

Can’t deny this book completely sucked me in, and with little expectation going in it was just a fun day to read this. Any book that has a nice wee dog as the main companion to bond with is fine by me. Dogs rule.

Canongate Books

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