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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Letter to Humanity
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...
Published 14 months ago by India M. Drummond

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars It's life Jim, but (not) as we know it.
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...
Published 1 day ago by GreenInk


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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Love Letter to Humanity, 20 May 2013
By 
India M. Drummond (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Humans (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars A book review in twenty words, 18 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Humans (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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3.0 out of 5 stars It's life Jim, but (not) as we know it., 23 July 2014
This review is from: The Humans (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
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, original novel, 11 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Humans (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious!, 26 May 2013
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This review is from: The Humans (Hardcover)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 18 Feb 2014
By 
Angela Ellis "Angela Ellis" (UK South Coast) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Humans (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
5.0 out of 5 stars astonishing, 10 Jun 2013
This review is from: The Humans (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
5.0 out of 5 stars The Hitchhiker's Guide to Humanity, 11 May 2013
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Humans (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.'

The author derives much humour from this but he also uses it to prise the lid off humanity and give it a good stir. In this respect The Humans resembles The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but instead of a human going out into the universe, the universe has come for a home visit.

As the alien recovers from his ordeal, he sets about trying to do his job, but he finds it more difficult than he expected. He discovers fragility and compassion amongst humanity that he did not expect. Andrew Martin's life was in turmoil, yet his family remained bound together, why was this? The alien delays his mission to find out more, sending him on a most unexpected journey.

It is Haig's contention that the binding force of humanity is love, and it is our ability to feel pain that gives it strength. This novel contains many deep, contemplative observations on the nature of love, familial and marital. Its accuracy is breathtaking.

I recently read a YA novel (which I have yet to review) at the heart of which was a bright tempestuous relationship, that is only possible when one is young. As I enter my fifth decade, I found the skipping hearts and trembling innards rather silly. Haig's novel is about the battered iron core that's left after years of compromise and altered dreams. It's about the real deal and is described with perfection.

In this respect The Humans reminded me of Plato's Symposium, something I read many years ago when I was trying to find a reading for my wedding. Anybody looking for something fresh for a reading or marriage vows should read this book. It is filled with many beautiful passages that encapsulate just what love and marriage should be.

The final and perhaps most heartfelt strand of the novel is that of Prof Martin and his son. I won't say too much as I wouldn't do it justice, but the alien's attempts to repair this foundering relationship are hilarious and heart-breaking all at the same time. They also strike fear into the heart of any dads of three boys that might be reading.

'Your life will have 25,000 days in it. Make sure you remember some of them.'

It's hard to describe just how good The Humans is. It's a book that has something for everybody. After all, it's about all of us. Funny and life affirming, it's one of those rarest of books; a feel good read that will stay with you long after reading. Read it, share it, live it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars It's not really about space and not really that funny, 19 July 2014
By 
pete "big blue pete" (edinburgh scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Humans (Paperback)
I was hoping for more Maths, more insight and more pathos and wisdom from the dog. What I got was sentimental, cliched and simplistic. This is a shame because The Humans comes with strong recommendations. It's not that funny and not that profound. It touches on death in the form of suicide but lacks conviction to fully explore this theme for fear of alienating the audience. The biggest disappointment though was the Maths which just seems to be a clumsy narrative theme onto which hang some homespun wisdom about how were all interconnected and love is the key. The book would work well as a set text in school for older teenagers.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More fun for young adults than jaded 50-year-olds, 23 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Humans (Paperback)
I've enjoyed Matt Haig's blog and feature writing, and this, along with endorsement from Jeanette Winterson, S J Watson and a raft of 5* reviews, meant I went into this novel confident I would love it. Perhaps not a good mindset - disappointment being more likely when expectations are raised.

I won't detail the plot as others have done so, and forgive my sounding like a party pooper, but I confess I was irritated by this book from the start: it is a novel full of inconsistencies, not least because the author's voice constantly intrudes on his characterisation. Whereas Mark Haddon pulls off the ventriloquism of becoming a child with Asperger's, Matt Haig does not enter as wholly into the mind of a sentient being who uses only logical thinking - time and again I noticed our narrator able to extrapolate general truths about human nature from single examples of behaviour one minute, then appear baffled by our species the next. How come, for instance, the alien knows from seeing his 'son' shrug that this is 'one of the main modes of communication for teenagers' when Gulliver is the only teen he's met? Yet a few pages on he seems utterly naive and is horrified by his wife, Isobel, cooking chicken 'breasts'. Both instances, were, for me written with the primary aim of being funny, but neither quite worked as I could sense the author intruding onto the page. The human characterisation is thin, too. There's a lot of hypothesising about love and relationships, yet neither Gulliver or Isobel felt fully realised and thus believable.

The book is fast paced and fun, and for a YA reader may offer a great deal more than it does to a jaded 50-year-old like me. I read it in a couple of sittings and was entertained by the concept of an alien landing on earth and examining what it is that makes us human. I just felt it could have been more - there are better novels out there which explore the nature of relationships - and having relished the incisiveness and honesty of Matt Haig's blogs, I expected greater insights.
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The Humans by Matt Haig
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