As a member of “The Next Best Book Club” on Goodreads.com, I finally decided to participate in one of the group read discussion. The premise for The Humans by Matt Haig sounded interesting, and maybe even humorous, so I purchased the book to read on my Kindle (no bookshelf commitment).
An alien in on earth and has taken the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a mathematician who has just made a possibly world altering discovery. The alien has a few tasks to complete that he wants to get done quickly as he finds humans to be disgusting and violent. However, the longer he takes human form, the more he comes to understand what motivates the human species to act and begins to have second thoughts about his mission. This novel mixes mathematics, extra-terrestrial life, and humor to produce a work that looks at human life from a decidedly different lens.
Matt Haig takes a novel approach to the exhaustive storytelling of extra terrestrial life by looking at humans through fresh eyes. The alien frequently makes witty observations about the eccentricities of humans, like the fact that a cow is a cow except when we are ready to eat the cow, then it’s beef. Haig pokes fun of and explores the meaning of human life throughout the novel, and tries to determine what motivates humans to keep going each day. The alien finds the human family dynamic challenging, and at the same time, gleams the most understanding of human life from that of his hosts Martin’s and son.
Although the premise was interesting, and the witty remarks were enjoyable, this book was very much a middle of the road read for me. I kept turning the pages in hopes that the story would lead somewhere exciting, but I found that the plot switched gears in the middle of the novel. The alien observations went from a mathematic calculated focus to one of pure emotion in a very short amount of time. Plus, I’m just not into mathematics, so although I found the clinical talk interesting, I found the writing to be unfocused. I think if I was into math at all, I might have enjoyed the story more, so that may be my own bias speaking. However, I just do not think the storyline developed enough to make the jump to observations about the meaning of life towards the end.
I read the book, and didn’t hate it, but it’s not one I would recommend to others. The story did wrap up completely, and there were sections I truly enjoyed, so this book doesn’t go into the “bad read” category, just the “well, I read it” category instead.