The world’s greatest mathematical puzzle has been solved by Professor Andrew Martin. The Riemann hypothesis would unlock the secrets of interstellar travel and huge medical advances. He goes missing in the night and the next day turns up wandering naked and appears to have forgotten how to act…well, human. Finding his wife and teenage son repulsive, he manages to bond with the family dog over peanut butter sandwiches and starts the task of obliterating all knowledge of the professor’s discovery.
On Earth, social networking generally involved sitting down at a non-sentient computer and typing words about needing a coffee and reading about other people needing a coffee, while forgetting to actually make a coffee.
The Humans had me genuinely laughing out loud. Our alien narrator spends the first few chapters naked (after learning the English language from Cosmopolitan magazine), and not realising that this is why people are giving him funny looks. Clothes are an odd concept; we’re the only species on the planet that wear them after all. This sets the tone for the book, the idea that an alien visiting Earth finds everything here a bit alien. Seeing the human race for the first time through his eyes is both hilarious and moving. We might have a history full of persecution and war, but we also have Emily Dickinson. And peanut butter.
Matt Haig hits the nail on the head repeatedly with many of our odd behaviour traits but he also addresses some of the serious aspects of being human. As our narrator starts to see humans differently, we see the humanity and the heart-ache. The chapter entitled “Advice for a human” (from which the quotes in the trailer come from) is a wonderfully uplifting list; one to read whenever you’re feeling down. Because being human is about ups and downs, and it makes us what we are. This is a book I can see myself returning to again and again. I love it!
The Humans is published by Canongate and will be available in hardback and ebook formats from 9th May 2013. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.