“I know that some of you reading this are convinced humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist. For those that don’t know, a human is a real bipedal life form of midrange intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small, waterlogged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe.”
S U M M A R Y
The Humans by Matt Haig is an interesting blend of science fiction and contemporary, about an alien that takes over a human’s identity to stop a mathematical principle called the Riemann Hypothesis from being solved. This hypothesis is essentially the solution to the pattern at which prime numbers occur, and according to the aliens, it would lead to catastrophe in human hands. Our main protagonist takes over the life of Professor Andrew Martin, an extraordinarily intelligent mathematician with a very poor relationship with his wife and son.
R E V I E W
This book is quirky, tongue-in-cheek, deep, and entrancing. It’s an interesting blend of sci-fi and contemporary. It deals with aliens and strange powers, but reads like a contemporary and has many themes commonly found in contemporary novels.
I have to say while reading the first few chapters, I almost put this down and didn’t pick it back up again. Reading about an alien with no previous knowledge of humanity trying to live as a human, I could barely deal with the secondhand embarrassment. Just keep that in mind if you decide to read this (which you should). It only takes a few chapters and it gets there. I ended up using so many tabs, I had to restrain myself from marking every single page.
The writing is beautiful and incorporates math concepts and imagery to connect and compare the alien race to humanity. Haig expertly transitions from more calculated, scientific language to a more poetic and “human” language as the story progresses and as our main character begins to understand humanity.
Towards the beginning, he listens to Holst’s The Planets (an album I was tickled to realize I owned) and his interaction with music and art are important turning points for his character.
“Listening to music, I realized, was simply the pleasure of counting without realizing you were counting. As the electrical impulses were transported from the neurons in my ear through my body, I felt–I don’t know–calm.”
One of the joys I experienced while reading was listening to the music our main character mentioned.
“There was a Talking Heads song called ‘This Must Be the Place,’ which I played over and over again, even though doing so made me feel melancholy and crave to hear her voice again, or to hear Gulliver’s footsteps on the stairs.”
In conclusion, read this book. It’s a story about love and loss, repairing relationships, and familial bonds. It will make you cry and laugh and think about stuff. If you’re just done with humanity and its bullshit, this book may or may not change your mind.