The Humans is a refreshingly funny and life-affirming read. Upon reading the premise and a handful of reviews, I had a few concerns that the story would be a little too childish for my liking but was quickly eliminated as I got sucked into Haig’s world.
Haig presents a rigorous examination of human life from the perspective of a enlightened alien assassin. It is decidedly muted in terms of the aspects of human life that Haig ridicules, and therein lies the beauty of it. There are limitless social constructs like tastes, preferences, dogs, and clothing that we take for granted as being the status-quo. It is very revealing in that regard. What makes this commentary all the more palatable is how it is interwoven with the light yet critical tone of the unnamed narrator. You cannot help but giggle at some of the quips.
The further in the story, the humour is balanced by a more tender and loving tone. Our unnamed narrator behaves almost like a child would, a fresh mind learning the subtleties of what makes humans human. Love, loss, and everything in between. Despite the audacity of the plot (alien assassin sent to assassinate those who have known the Riemann Hypothesis to be solvable), the exchanges with Isobel, Gulliver, and Ari are as heart-warming as you could hope for.
The experience of reading the Humans is similar to watching The Good Place. There will be laughs, there will be food for thought, and you can guarantee there will be learnings. For as much as it can be categorised under Sci-Fi or Magical Realism, it is also didactic in nature and would fit nicely under the literary fiction tag.
Recommended. The Humans is a light, funny, and life-affirming read. It was my introduction to the world of Matt Haig, and I can’t think of a better book to do that job.