Book Review: The Humans by Matt Haig

The Humans
by Matt Haig

Publication date: April 3rd 2014
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd
Pages: 304


After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he’s a dog.

Who is he really? And what could make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

Source: Goodreads


I almost didn’t read this because I was put off by its childish looking cover, believing I’d accidently picked up a book for teenagers. Yes, I judged a book by its cover, but I’m so glad I didn’t cast it aside as I really enjoyed Matt Haig‘s ‘The Humans’.

Covering a wide range of genres, the story begins when a Vonnadorian alien takes the human form of professor and mathematician Andrew Martin. He has been given the task to destroy the work of the real professor who had been working to prove the Reimann theory, a world changing equation related to prime numbers, and to kill anyone who may have the slightest idea of this discovery. Yet as he learns more about human beings, he falls in love with the fear, pain, love and joy of humanity missing on his own planet.

Rather humorously, this alien’s first curious encounter on Earth involves him being completely naked on a motorway, in a book shop and around the university campus. At first disgusted by the appearance of humans, he picks up the language, learns about the necessity for clothes and tries to understand human nature while passing himself off as Andrew Martin having a bit of a breakdown.

Married with a child, Haig delves into the complexities of Andrew’s family life. Andrew and his wife Isobel are stuck in a dead marriage, their son Gulliver is being bullied at school and online. Yet despite these negatives, Haig paints an optimistic, positive picture of humanity, proving that hope and love can be found in spite of imperfection.

“Don’t ever be afraid of telling someone you live them. There are things wrong with the world, but an excess of love is not one.”

This book made me think, it made me laugh and it made me nod my head in agreement. I happily sped through the pages and finished it in less than a week.

“A cow is a cow even if you call it beef”

My only criticism would be the inclusion of some unnecessary paragraphs towards the ending which felt slightly dragged out and the inappropriate cover art which doesn’t truly represent the heart to this book.

Overall rating: A book to make you think about life and to see through its imperfections. I’m giving ‘The Humans’ 4 stars.

See my other reviews of books by Matt Haig here:

3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Humans by Matt Haig

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