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The Humans: A Novel

by Matt Haig

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4851049,040 (3.83)82
Regarding humans unfavorably upon arriving on Earth, a reluctant extraterrestrial assumes the identity of a Cambridge mathematician before realizing that there's more to the human race than he suspected.
  1. 00
    The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (baystateRA)
    baystateRA: Unreliable narrators observing "normal" human behavior create a lot of the humor in both of these books. The comedy in The Rosie Project isn't as dark as in The Humans.
  2. 00
    The World of the End by Ofir Touché Gafla (fugitive)
    fugitive: Two very odd works using satire and pathos to explore what it means to be human and alive. Two different versions of mortality.
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» See also 82 mentions

English (97)  Dutch (2)  Catalan (2)  Spanish (1)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (104)
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
At some points this nearly made 4 stars - which is high praise... It's a light hearted book but dealing happily with some deep issues. Reminded me at times of an old series on TV 'Third Rock from the Sun' which we really enjoyed. He makes good use of the outsider status but brings all the human characters to life. In fact I never do quotes but here is one:

"You killed an alien assassin sent from the other side of the universe with a bread knife." ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
A humorous blend of philosophy and science fiction that examines and ultimately celebrates what it means to be human. ( )
  wandaly | Jan 15, 2021 |
How to be a good person told through the lens of an alien visitor. OK morale, but so-so story. ( )
  Guide2 | Jan 2, 2021 |
The Humans is a standalone science fiction novel written by an alien. Actually, I think the author is a human, but the character who takes credit for writing the book is an alien. A mathematician on Earth has just proven the Riemann hypothesis, and this is dangerous for the whole universe. Just before the story begins, the mathematician is killed by an alien species for the good of the universe. The alien who wrote the book was assigned to take on his appearance, figure out just how far the knowledge had spread, and eliminate all evidence of the mathematical proof, including any people who know about it. The alien makes many missteps as he attempts to fulfill this duty.

This was a funny, fast read. I chuckled several times throughout the book. However, it was also completely illogical and too sappy for my tastes. We have a highly intelligent and advanced race of aliens who know enough about what’s going on with Earth to be aware that a random mathematician figured out how to prove the Riemann hypothesis. They're so on top of it, that they take action within just a few days. And yet apparently they were completely unable to prepare their alien spy with knowledge of the language and such basic fitting-in skills such as wearing clothes. Our alien "author" went in with no preparation whatsoever aside from being told what his objective was.

Logic wasn’t really the point of this story. That was clear from the first chapter, and I tried to set it aside, but my brain doesn’t really work that way. The story I think was meant more as a vehicle to let the alien make clever observations about human nature and to provide hope and encouragement to people who are struggling with their membership in the human race. Even while some of the alien’s observations made me laugh, I had trouble with the alien’s convenient tendency to understand certain nuances of human nature while completely misunderstanding others. Which way things went, understood or not understood, seemed to be based not so much on logic but rather on whichever would be funnier.

This book joins Bunnicula in feeding toxic food to dogs without anybody seeming to be aware of the dangers. On behalf of the dogs on our planet, and any other planets where they might be found, I would like to warn people not to feed their dogs grapes. Not even a single grape. Grapes (and raisins, of course) are toxic to dogs.

So anyway, the book. It was cute, and it made me laugh. I don’t regret reading it, but I think I would have really enjoyed this premise more if it had been told in a more serious, believable manner. However, I do understand that this wasn't the author's goal in writing the book based on the details he provided in his acknowledgements. ( )
1 vote YouKneeK | Dec 15, 2020 |
I think Matt Haig is a really engaging writer, and this is a good example of that. Clever, funny, charming, and open-hearted. Enjoyed the audiobook narration as well. ( )
  RandyRasa | Oct 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 97 (next | show all)
Proving once again that it's often necessary to take an outsider's view into consideration to fully understand something familiar, The Humans is a treatise addressed to the alien's race, describing the messy, repulsive, delightful and humane nature that makes us human. The alien, who actually prefers a dog to people—a perfectly sensible decision to many humans—discovers one of the greatest dangers of anthropology: the temptation to go “native.”
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haig, Mattprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ferguson, ArchieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Meadows, MarkNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weinberg, JuliusForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
I have just got a new theory of eternity.

--Albert Einstein
Dedication
To Andrea, Lucas, and Pearl
First words
I know that some of you reading this are convinced humans are a myth, but I am here to state that they do actually exist. For those that don't know, a human is a real bipedal life form of midrange intelligence, living a largely deluded existence on a small, waterlogged planet in a very lonely corner of the universe.
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Regarding humans unfavorably upon arriving on Earth, a reluctant extraterrestrial assumes the identity of a Cambridge mathematician before realizing that there's more to the human race than he suspected.

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