Paperback (Canongate, 294 pages)
First published 2013; this edition published 2014
Rating on Goodreads: 4 stars
“Our hero, Professor Andrew Martin, is dead before the book even begins. As it turns out, though, he wasn’t a very nice man–as the alien imposter who now occupies his body discovers. Sent to Earth to destroy evidence that Andrew had solved a major mathematical problem, the alien soon finds himself learning more about the professor, his family, and “the humans” than he ever expected. When he begins to fall for his own wife and son–who have no idea he’s not the real Andrew–the alien must choose between completing his mission and returning home or finding a new home right here on Earth.”
This book. THIS BOOK.
Oh, I loved this. So much. I had never read any of Matt Haig’s work before – but I definitely will read more now. I was sent this as a Christmas present by a friend – and I am so glad she sent it.
It’s a book reminiscent of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker works and Michel Faber’s Under The Skin. You do get the sense of the alien’s confusion, his uncertainty. That comes across strongly, and the book is all the better for it. His confusion can be entertaining at times, but it is also both heartwarming and heartbreaking. His relationships with characters are touching and altogether human, despite his alien nature. (I think my favourite bond he shares is with Newton. Simple, but so lovely.)
The Humans is a triumph, to be honest with you. It’s the kind of book I wish I had the skill to write. Matt Haig is a wonderful writer. I will admit that I wanted to know more about Andrew’s integration into human society and wanted the book to be a little longer – but its shortness makes it all the more bittersweet. From the alien’s strength in logical understanding to his gradual comprehension of human instinct and emotions, this is an amazing piece of fiction. Loved it. Go read it.