Since the beginning of the year I’ve been making a *slightly* conscious effort to get cracking on that long languishing TBR (hence why I’m currently reading Cloud Atlas after all these years) but also to have a little more fun. 2014 was exciting but, for someone who can only manage a book a week MAX, I think I became far too focused on reading and reviewing for other publications instead of focusing on simply enjoying myself.
Realising the error of my ways it turns out that, in 2015, Lucy is back in charge and I’m having a much better time for it. In this new relaxed mode it also appears my mind might be opening up just a tad, leaving room to consider all kind of genres (yes, even crime fiction might be on the horizon!)
Matt Haig’s The Humans, while hardly pushing the genre boundaries, certainly fitted with my carefree reading vibe and, since I’m certain this has been a book club runner-up on at least two occasions, I was confident to be in for a treat.
Professor Andrew Martin; world-renowned academic and mathematician has just made an immense discovery that is certain to set the course of human endeavour and technology on a mind-boggling leap all the way into our solar system and beyond. The only problem is that, in a desperate bid to prevent the human race from destroying both themselves and potentially other civilisations in the process, an alien body has entered his and deleted all trace of the discovery from his computer.
Not content, ‘The Hosts’ from a planet in a galaxy far far away (yikes, did I just do that?) allow our alien to remain on earth in his scholarly guise to penetrate deeper in to the Professor’s life, relationships and make sure all knowledge of his work is erased forever, whatever the cost. Gradually however, the visitor’s in-built resolve crumbles as he discovers baffling qualities in the human race, and in Martin’s own family, that he grows to love, sacrificing his own safety in the process.
Haig writes well. Mr Alien and his frequently hilarious reactions to everyone and everything around him actually reminded me of a good friend who, although he doesn’t know it, will shortly be receiving a copy of this sweet little book.
The way ‘ordinary’ human behaviour (wearing clothes), habits (hiding their feelings) and obsessions (with money) is described is often nothing short of fascinating. As if a one year old were given the ability to observe the world fully and articulate it properly. However, although there is a certain loveliness in the logic and simplicity of the narrative and the ideas are often very poignant and beautiful truths about our own existence, the book stopped short of the poetry I craved. A shame considering some of the perfect ideas our alien expounds.
The vision of an alien world so different from our own and the concept of how advancements in mathematics could so drastically alter our future (‘because mathematics is everything’) is fairly mind-boggling and actually led to me looking up mathematical theories online – NOT my area I assure you. I just love when a book gets your brain ticking. It’s so important, and you don’t necessarily need to be a reading ‘a great classic’ for it to happen.
Beyond our alien chappy the supporting cast of Andrew Martin’s family/friends/work colleagues are strikingly ordinary and slightly clichéd, even the wretched teenage son, but in context these stereotypes are needed for our deeper musings on the human race. The ending? Predictable but lovely. And what more do us poor, blinkered humans need than a bit of loveliness in our lives?
My copy of The Humans was obtained in the wonderful library in the centre of Manchester. I didn’t think they’d have it in but they even had the hard copy for me to take away! Marvellous.