Saturday, 27 December 2014

My Thoughts On: The Humans by Matt Haig

Hello Humans!

Back into the swing of reading and praising a truly excellent book - The Humans by Matt Haig!

After an ‘incident’ one wet Friday night where he is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, Professor Andrew Martin is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confuse him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels list 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? 

Telling the story of Professor Andrew Martin, The Humans’ concept reminded me partly of Stephanie Myers’s The Host. Alien comes to earth taking the form of a human, its mission taking a turn for the worse (or better) when they become acquainted with their human family. But fear not. There was something oddly refreshing about this, with splashes of darkness that were not only unexpected, but beautiful in part too. 

The voice was also original and funny. Our unnamed narrator is witty, taking the simplest concepts such as clothes, and making actual human readers question them in a whole different way. These could borderline on existential crisis inducing, but the wit and human give them a certain lightness, often making them laugh-out-loud-able. Haig’s choice of voice gave us strong narration and  character immediately, something that carried me through the rest of the novel.

Concise structure with short chapters made The Humans particularly appealing for me too, it kept my interest and helped me really care for the characters. Phrasing was also specially chosen, which gave the book a poetic tone. The author’s note and acknowledgements suggest Haig wrote this ‘in the midst of a panic disorder’ but his view of the world remains dreamy and philosophical in The Humans. He almost has adopted the view of an observational comedian whose jokes almost everyone can relate to. Favourite quotes include: ‘Humans as a rule, don’t like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead.’ But overall, there are much deeper parts to this which swing between heart wrenching and heart warming. It’s a warm hug but also a stab in the stomach.

Andrew’s son Gulliver spoke to me the most. I bought this book in the hope it would pull me out of a prolonged bad mood so could partially empathise with how he was feeling. Gulliver is where the darker element comes in but Haig handles this with sensitivity, and I knew the character was in safe hands knowing of Haig’s past with mental health problems. Darker undertones made our narrator figure out not only love, but also hate and self loathing. I had the strongest image in my mind for Gulliver and wished him every happiness.

In summary: I couldn’t fault the humans. It was medicine in book form, an incredible tale of what it means to be human, to love and to hate, unravelling our life forms into something ‘literally wonderful.’ Thank you, Matt Haig. Five stars 

Have you read The Humans? What did you think? Raved about or repelled by, let me know in the comments!


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