#bookreview – The Humans by Matt Haig (@matthaig1)
The Humans is a warm, satirical, and entertaining story of an alien assimilating into society as a human on Earth. But first, Professor Andrew Martin must die on the account of having solved one of the biggest problems in mathematics, the Riemann Hypothesis. Of course, this also means anyone that may know of the professor’s discovery must also be eliminated, including his wife and son. Simple.
The first half of the novel is entertaining enough as our nameless Vonnadorian alien slowly learns of the customs and ways of this new civilization he as come upon, especially the value of clothes. He loathes and despises these primitive ways. Suspension of disbelief is a must for the first half – mainly for the descriptive language. There were some concepts and objects that he didn’t grasp but had no problem using the understanding that vehicles were reliant on “fossil fuels” and in upcoming sentences, proceeding to call the vehicles “cars.” This is a personal issue – it’s something I had an extremely hard time with but considering the novel is 300 plus pages, I figured I might as well finish it. And I’m glad I did.
Into the second half of the novel the tone has shifted to an appreciation of the arts, dogs, familial relationships, and the complexities of emotion. By all means this is no Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein; don’t expect commentary on the sexual revolution, religion, greed, war or anything else vis-à-vis the late 60’s to early 70’s. Well, some, but it’s to be expected when you do a cliché theme of bringing an outsider into human culture. Towards the end of the novel, we’re granted 97 tenets of life and how to live as learned by our Vonnadorian. And you know what, they’re not bad. It’s nothing too deep or too profound; they’re things you or I may already know, but Mr. Haig has a great way of putting them into words… words that any human should live by.