This book, this actual book, is set right here, on Earth. It is about the meaning of life and nothing at all. It is about what it takes to kill somebody, and save them. It is about love and dead poets and wholenut peanut butter. It’s about matter and antimatter, everything and nothing, hope and hate. It’s about a forty-year-old female historian called Isobel and her fifteen-year-old son called Gulliver and the cleverest mathematician in the world. It is, in short, about how to become a human.
As the title gives it away it is about us, humans (sorry aliens who might read this…). Actually, the book’s main character is an alien and it is narrated by him. An alien who got himself in a human body of a forty-three-year-old mathematician – husband, father – who taught at Cambridge University: Professor Andrew Martin. The real professor solved a mathematical problem that shouldn’t have been solved – according to aliens – so the hosts robbed and probably killed him. They replaced him to destroy evidence (in computers and living human beings) of the breakthrough.
At first we get to know the alien’s situation: he’s in a human’s naked body on a street far from home. He can’t even speak before reading Cosmopolitan and most importantly he doesn’t know anything about humans. Only basic information of his duty because it is a sudden mission. Therefore he wonders why we do certain things as humans that we, humans consider so basic (such as wearing clothes). From this situation comes so many humorous moments and during reading it we learn to laugh at ourselves, humans.
During his mission on Earth he’s surprised by many many things:
- how humans eat animals:
The humans farm it and cut its throat and then cut it up and package it and refrigerate it and sell it and cook it. By doing this, apparently they have earned the right to change its name to beef, which is the monosyllable furthest away from cow, because the last thing a human wants to think about when eating cow is an actual cow.
- the news on TV:
The term ‘news’ on Earth generally meant ‘news that directly affects humans’. There was, quite literally, nothing about the antelope or the sea-horse or the red-eared slider turtle or the other nine million species on the planet.
And after watching the news he calls it: The war and money show. He certainly thinks that the human species are crazy. During reading it we realize how odd is our world.
With time he learns how to be a human: how to speak, how to wear clothes, how to live in a family, how to love and learns the rules of being a human.
Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass.
This book is a humorous sci-fiction for adults. It is set in the present-day in England. Which is probably because Matt Haig, the author is British. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him personally at my uni, Kingston University. (The Humans was part of our Big Read which was created for first-years to feel part of the university community.) He is a very kind, lovely man who suffered from major depressive disorder at the age of 24. It had a huge impact on his works. I’ve read two of his books (The Humans, Reasons to Stay Alive) and during and after reading his works I always feel more grateful for what I have and happy just to be alive. That is why I would recommend reading when we feel blue and for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. It might even save lives. I also recommend it for first-years at any university because it teaches how to live with other who think differently. That is why I can’t compare it to other books because its message makes it so unique.
I really enjoyed it so I gave 5/5 on goodreads.com! 🙂