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The Humans Hardcover – 9 May 2013


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Hardcover, 9 May 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; Signed ed edition (9 May 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 178211209X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782112099
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 16.2 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,458,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matt Haig suffered a breakdown in his early twenties. After battling depression for a long while he turned to writing. He now believes that reading and writing books saved his life, and believes that 'in a world trying to increasingly isolate us from our environment and our true selves, books are our route to freedom, and to each other'. His novels include the bestsellers The Last Family in England, The Radleys and The Humans. His books have been translated into 30 languages. All his novels for adults have been optioned for film. He has also written novels for children, including Shadow Forest, To Be A Cat and the new YA novel Echo Boy. His next book is about his experience of depression, called Reasons To Stay Alive.

He won the TV Book Club 'book of the series', and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans has been chosen as a 2014 World Book Night title. His children's novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children's Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.

His books have received praise from Jeanette Winterson, Joanne Harris, Patrick Ness, Ian Rankin and SJ Watson, among others. The Guardian summed up his writing as 'funny, clever and quite, quite lovely' by The Times and the New York Times called him 'a writer of great talent'.


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4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By India M. Drummond on 20 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was my first exposure to Matt Haig's writing, and I've fallen in love with his voice, his honesty and remarkable insight. It's an important novel that doesn't read like an important novel. Overall, I think it's best described as a love letter to humanity.

It follows the account of a nameless alien who takes over the body of a mathematician who's discovered something the alien civilisation doesn't believe the people of Earth can yet handle. So he comes to Earth with the mission to destroy the evidence of the discovery and to kill everyone who knows about it.

Something funny happens along the way. He begins to interact, to have his curiosity engaged. He learns what it means to be human, and in sharing this insightful and funny account, also tells a love story.

I'd seen other readers saying the book made them cry. It made me wary at first, because I don't like tragedy. After having read it, I can report that I did cry at the end, but not because it was tragic, but because it was perfect and beautiful, the way a person might cry at a wedding, the birth of a baby, or at receiving good news. The ending was perfect and gave a message of love and hope that was never sappy, never self-important, but sweet and subtle, like first love.

I would recommend this book to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ian Kirkpatrick on 18 Feb 2014
Format: Paperback
You must read this book! It is an astonishing achievement. Matt Haig confronts the pressing issues of our time brilliantly.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book because it was suggested reading for my book club. My thoughts should be prefaced with the point that I do not like sci-fi books, so although I do not regret reading The Humans (it was avery readable) it was probably on a hiding to nothing from the outset.

The first half of the book (the sci-fi bit) was in my opinion all a bit silly and I am sure that if I had tried to think in any depth about the alien's struggle with life on Earth, full of holes. If one remembers the famous Smash advertisement with the aliens laughing about the silly humans that peeled and boiled potatoes before making mashed potato, it felt like an extended version of that. The second half of the book, when the alien becomes more human in his outlook I liked better, maybe because I am more interested in humans than little green men from outer space. I did find it odd that there was no adequate explanation of why our alien suddenly started to like pain, peanut butter sandwiches and humans, unless we are meant to believe it was because of the potency of love and Emily Dickinson's poetry. Towards the end we are treated to a bout of lightweight philosophising (I do have to admit that I quite enjoyed the shopping list of life instructions to Gulliver, his acquired son) as the alien/human that is Professor Andrew Martin ponders on the meaning of being a mortal human being, but this is mercifully short and doesn't interfere with the book's final scenes.

I am not surprised that others enjoyed the book, it is light, amusing and proceeds apace, but it was never going to be for me. Unlike our alien that comes to appreciate the illogicality of the human race so much he wants to become a member (clearly no Mr Spock) I was not persuaded to change my view of books about aliens on the strength of The Humans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeannie on 11 Jun 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Brilliant! Funny and thought provoking. A thoroughly good read. More of the same please from this intellident and entertaining author
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ACJ on 26 May 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When somebody says a book is a "must read", I am tempted to give it a wide berth. Sorry, I'm only human. And now, in true human fickle fashion, I am going to urge you (yes, YOU!) to read this book. It is immersive and beautiful and strange and it sparkles and fizzes and shines. I read it in two sittings. I laughed and cried and cheered. It made me glad to be human - we are amazing and weird - and it almost made me want a dog, but I'm going to stick with a house full of fellow humans and cats for now.
Thank you, Matt Haig.
Brilliant.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Angela Ellis on 18 Feb 2014
Format: Paperback
The first couple of pages.. Alien! Maths! Not really my subject or genre at all.. But within the hour I was hooked. This deep and thought provoking story pulled me in, as he fell in love with his family, I fell in love with them all. A story of love, heartache, depression and recovery. The last few pages had me crying, not sobbing but the sort of crying where tears are falling and you don't even know it. I loved this book.. I've lent it out (and lost my copy) but I know that 3 other people have since read my copy and also loved it!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By BookMania on 10 Jun 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was like no other book I have ever read - it's extraordinary - wonderful, enlightening, uplifting, I actually felt something like joy when I was reading it - perhaps it was joy. I think Matt Haig has one of the most brilliant voices in contemporary literature. I read it in just one day but will remember it and return to it. An absolutely gorgeous cake of a book.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Quicksilver TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 May 2013
Format: Hardcover
The Humans is one of those rare books that makes writing look effortless. There is no strain in reading it. Nothing is forced, it's just pure unadulterated storytelling. It's the sort of book that makes you think you could be an author, 'There's nothing complicated about this, I could do it, no bother.', belying just how much talent you have to have to write something this good.

The story is beguiling in its premise. Andrew Martin, professor of maths at Cambridge solved one of maths' great unsolveables. At which point he was exterminated. He was then replaced with an alien life-form tasked with eradicating any evidence of his new theory, up to and including murdering anybody Martin had told. The imposter comes from a supremely intelligent species that operates through pure logic. They have decided the human race is not psychologically equipped to cope with the ramifications of Dr Martin's discovery, and so, for the good of the universe, they decide to put the boot in.

This plan goes wrong from the outset, when Professor Martin's doppelgänger finds himself naked, running down a Cambridge street. Instead of carrying out his mission, he becomes entangled with the law and processed into the mental health system. From here he starts to learn more and more about the humans.

'Humans as a rule don't like mad people unless they are good at painting and only then once they are dead.'

Much of the novel's strength comes from everything about humanity being an anathema to its narrator. The alien questions all our basic assumptions and calls us on life's absurdities.

'A cow is an Earth-dwelling animal...which humans treat as a one-stop shop for food, liquid refreshment, fertiliser and designer footwear.
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