The Humans, by Matt Haig

I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley to review, on behalf of the publisher. It will be released 2 July 2013.

The Humans
Matt Haig's The Humans, his sophomore book, is better than his already good The Radleys. Both books explore what it is to be human and what it is to appear to be human, through the lens of horror (Radleys) and science fiction (The Humans). In this book, an unnamed alien is sent to Earth with a mission: to destroy any trace of Andrew Martin's solution to the Reimann Hypothesis. Solving this 154 year old mathematical problem, according to this alien's superiors, will give humans technological advances that they can't handle. We're too barbaric and violent, apparently.

The first casualty is Dr. Martin himself. The unnamed alien is given his likeness after the doctor's death and sent to the doctor's home to find out who Martin told. The alien is disgusted by much about humans, their appearance, and their behavior. But that starts to change when he (presumably) listens to Gustav Holst's The Planets and the Beach Boys. Coming, as he does, from a world ruled by logic, without emotion, he has never experienced music or art or natural beauty. He starts to see the importance of chaos in life. Even though humans are violent and mortal, we might have a better existence than the alien's people because we have love.

The Humans is a surprisingly touching book and Haig's writing, at times, sparkles. I wish I could quote from it, but I read an advance copy and the text may change a bit before it goes to press. The plot doesn't particularly stand out, but it doesn't need to because you don't read it for that. You read it to meditate on the tension between our emotional selves and our higher selves, what Freud would call the subconscious, id, ego, and superego. But, you know, with aliens.

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