The Humans

The Humans

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:

The bestselling, award-winning author of The Radleys is back with what may be his best, funniest, and most devastating dark comedy yet. When an extraterrestrial visitor arrives on Earth, his first impressions of the human species are less than positive. Taking the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a prominent mathematician at Cambridge University, the visitor is eager to complete the gruesome task assigned him and hurry back home to the utopian world of his own planet, where everyone enjoys immortality and infinite knowledge.

He is disgusted by the way humans look, what they eat, and their capacity for murder and war, and he is equally baffled by the concepts of love and family. But as time goes on, he starts to realize there may be more to this weird species than he has been led to believe. Disguised as Martin, he drinks wine, reads poetry, and develops an ear for rock music and a taste for peanut butter. Slowly, unexpectedly, he forges bonds with Martin's family, and in picking up the pieces of the professor's shattered personal life, he begins to see hope and beauty in the humans' imperfections and to question the mission that brought him here.

Praised by The New York Times as a "novelist of great seriousness and talent," Matt Haig delivers an unlikely story about human nature and the joy found in the messiness of life on Earth. The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable tale that playfully and movingly explores the ultimate subject--ourselves.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins Publishers Limited, ©2013.
Edition: First Canadian edition.
ISBN: 9781443423656
Characteristics: x, 294 pages ;,22 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 13, 2019

There are some insightful and poignant observations about humanity in the book, but the story is otherwise unremarkable.

Award-winning author Matt Haig explores the relationships that make us human in his 2014 title The Humans. An extra-terrestrial arrives on Earth to prevent a great mathematics discovery that will change the universe; however his initial disgust of the human species mellows as he becomes acquainted with some of the inhabitants of Cambridge, England, and, ultimately, he questions the need to eliminate friends and family of Professor Andrew Martin in order to protect the mathematical secret. It could be seen as a gentle first foray into Science Fiction (with alien life, spaceships, and telepathic abilities), but can equally be read as a piece of fiction which illuminates the importance of relationships to the human experience. Pick it up for a quick read that will stay with you, and an introduction to an author who is attracting great reviews with all his titles. (Submitted by Jennifer).

Aug 28, 2018

A good former librarian friend of mine recommended I read "How to Stop Time". What a good novel that was. Both amusing and entertaining with shades of "the Time Travellers Wife" and Heinlein's Lazarus Long (am I reaching back too far into the annexes of Sci Fi when it was still called science fiction for you?)
So "Humans" is part science fiction (easy on the science); less melancholy than Stop Time; plot line that seems sometimes to border on the adolescent; and sometimes whimsical. But it's good. Good enough to be worth a good read: very much on my liked list.

Mar 24, 2018

I almost jettisoned this novel after twenty pages or so for being too kitschy -- just so self aware of how cute it was being. I pushed on because some of the lines were genuinely amusing and others were genuinely thought-provoking. Happily that continues throughout the book. While technically I guess this is a comic sci-fi novel (Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut) it really doesn't feel like it. It's about family, the human condition and poetry. It's definitely the only book ever written that can't shut up talking about mathematics without being off-putting, if you can imagine that. It's a breezy, enjoyable read.

Feb 24, 2018

Favorite book in a long time. Gave me something to think about. Loved the characters and the setting. On the waiting list for other books by this author.

ArapahoePamelaH Jan 30, 2018

Matt Haig's books examine what it means to be human. In this favorite of mine, an alien sent to earth must learn to pass as a human. He reads an issue of "Cosmopolitan" magazine to learn English, and along the way becomes entranced by us human's ability to love, in all its forms. Wonderful!

Oct 12, 2017

This was an excellent read! The plot was engaging and exciting. It questions major forces that drive humans, well written with a great lineup of characters. A story you hope will not end, but eventually does :(

ArapahoeLesley Nov 09, 2016

A clever and humorous science fiction tale of the differences of what it means to live in a 'civilization' versus what it means to actually be human. I want to read some Dickenson now!

Aug 04, 2016

The story of an alien who tries to make sense of what being human is all about.

Jan 09, 2016

Very enjoyable and moving book. Puts things into perspective and makes us appreciate what is great about humans.

View All Comments

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability
Mar 05, 2018

ravenschild thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at Library

To Top