We all like to share quotes, whether they be inspirational, funny, or say exactly what we mean but in a prettier way. So what does it mean when I want to quote an ENTIRE BOOK? It means I really, really loved it. The Humans is like a breath of fresh air; it’s touching, enthralling, amusing, and tugs at the heartstrings. It’s so fascinating to see humans for what we really are… just like how the alien protagonist learned about humans, we still have just as much to learn about ourselves and the world around us.
I have come to a planet where the most intelligent life form still has to drive its own cars…
An alien from a mathematically-driven utopian society on another planet in another universe is sent to stop Cambridge University math professor Andrew Martin from disseminating his proof of the Riemann Hypothesis. In fear of the incapability of humans to wield this knowledge wisely, the alien takes over Martin’s body and is told to kill all whom knows that Martin has solved the Riemann Hypothesis and destroy all copies of the proof. However, the alien is hindered from his mission by his lack of understanding of the humans at the beginning of his journey, as well as by his growing understanding of the humans throughout the story.
So many things in The Humans went right for me. Firstly, the description of the book at the very beginning promised peanut butter.
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.
Secondly, the narrator of this story is from the planet Vonnadoria (and therefore is not a human), and he’s able to look at everything on Earth with a fresh perspective. Even though he learned about what Earth is like, the real thing leaves him bewildered. He obviously doesn’t think much of the humans, and is disgusted at the sight of the human face, horrified by rain, confused by the feeling of sadness (which he’s never needed to feel), and thinks that spitting is the human form of greeting one another. But he perseveres because of his mission, and gradually learns the ways of the humans. The alien’s lack of knowledge of the human world makes for some humorous thoughts and unusually beautiful descriptions; for example, when he first got to Earth:
This was night to the power of night to the power of night. This was night cubed. A sky full of uncompromising darkness with no stars and no moon. Where were the suns? Were there even suns? The cold suggested there might not have been.
The alien also interacts a lot with Andrew Martin’s wife and son, and it’s interesting to see how his interactions and thoughts about them change throughout the book. All of Haig’s characters are, in their own way, so distinctly human compared to the alien, and Haig is able to bring them to life and make them just as interesting as the alien.
And Haig’s writing is just TOO GOOD. It has a short-and-sweet feel, and the math-inspired passages just kill me. Here, the alien’s superiors say to him:
A prime number is strong. It does not depend on others. It is pure and complete and never weakens. You must be like a prime.
You see what he did there? SEE? Brilliant.
Another one of my favorite parts of The Humans is the section where the alien lists lessons he’s learned about the humans. I just want to print the entire list and frame it on my wall and read it out loud every single day, it’s that good. I won’t spoil it for you, so I’ll quote just one:
86. To like something is to insult it. Love it or hate it. Be passionate.
I loved The Humans, as you can probably tell. Haig brought math and aliens to Earth on a spectacular adventure, and with his beautifully simplistic style, redefined human relationships and society at large. If you like being able to FEEL something after a book, read The Humans. If you like science fiction, realistic fiction, stories about people, math, romance, dogs, music, peanut butter… The Humans has it all.