By Justin Campbell
The Humans, written by Matt Haig, takes a look at our species, customs and culture from the point of view of an alien, and ends with the alien’s appreciation, understanding, and adaptation into human life. I found it in Chapters, and as soon as I read the summary on the book jacket, I was intrigued. My money was spent, and the book was now mine to explore. I was pleased with this science-fiction novel. I have rarely read something with such profound insight on our species and how we work.
The story focuses on Professor Andrew Martin. He’s been “taken” – disposed of and duplicated by a Vonnadorian alien. This unnamed alien comes from a utopian planet of violet landscapes. The immortal individuals have no family or obvious connections, and there is no violence, pain, or disorder. Everything is calm, logical, and mathematically correct. There is no art or religion: Numbers are their passion.
This alien is sent to Earth to remove all evidence of a solution for the Riemann Hypothesis, a mathematical equation that analyzes the distribution of prime numbers. If solved, the humans’ subsequent technological advancement could match that of the Vonnadorians.
Andrew Martin’s success leads to him being taken because the aliens believe humans do not handle progress well; therefore, they could pose a threat to the universe. The alien transforms into Martin to fulfill this goal for the greater good. However, in the process he gets thrown into Martin’s personal affairs, experiences, and obligations, which eventually lead him into forgoing his original beliefs. He slowly begins to understand and accept the imperfections of human beings – the concepts of art, music, family, and love.
I recommend this book because it questions a simplistic view of reality. At first Martin doesn’t understand the concept of clothing, of shielding our bodies from one another, and then making judgments based on that. But he comes to see that while we are a strange species, there’s some beauty in that strangeness.
“If you came to Earth looking for logical sense you were missing the point. You were missing lots of things. (…) On other, more enlightened planets, there was peace and calm and logic that so often came with advanced intelligence. I wanted none of it, I realized.” - The Humans, Matt Haig.