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Book Review – The Humans by Matt Haig

“There is only one genre in fiction. The genre is called ‘book'” – p272

I’m not sure if this counts as a controversial book or not. I had one friend tell me it’s the best she’s ever read. Raved about it. Then another one who said it’s the worst she’s ever read. Really slated it. So maybe it’s a polar book. A Marmite book. Love it or hate it. Either way the only way to know if it’s good is to read it yourself, right?
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The Human’s by Matt Haig:

“There’s no place like home. Or is there? 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 wide and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost 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…?”

Good news everyone! (If you didn’t read that as the professor from Futurama, we need to talk) It’s not a Marmite book. I didn’t hate it, didn’t love it. In fact I stand firmly in the middle ground.

The humans is very clever essay on depression and mental illness and what it is to be human and to keep on moving in the darkest of times. It’s funny and poignant in places. The writing style reminded me of Douglas Adams, especially in the beginning, brilliantly quotable and full of great advice and observations of everyday occurrences.

However…

I didn’t connect with the characters, they were all kinda blah people and I really didn’t care what happened to them. I never really felt like there was any danger from the invisible alien overlords and when they did show up it was fairly anticlimactic. The whole thing is a very slow read, even though it gets right down to the action, it still feels like you have to wade through the prose. Kinda stodgy.

I see why Matt Haig’s self help, getting-over-depression-book has sold so well, he obviously knows what he is talking about, as a novel though, it’s decidedly average but has some brilliant quotes; the whole chapter on ‘mad people’ for example (page 32). I’ve given it 3 stars because it’s equal parts good and bad.

3/5 ***

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