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Editor reviews

Take a hilarious look at human life from an unlikely yet endearing perspective in Matt Haig’s The Humans, narrated in this unabridged audiobook by ever-popular British actor and broadcaster Mark Meadows. This enchanting story has all the markings of true creativity and literary skill. Professor-cum-alien Andrew Martin must learn the life of a human with all the trials and tribulations that come with it. The only companion he seems to understand is the family dog. This book will make you laugh, cry and be dazzled in its ability to capture the human spirit in a questionably non-human character. Available now from Audible.

Summary

It's hardest to belong when you're closest to home....

One wet Friday evening, Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University solves the world's greatest mathematical riddle. Then he disappears. When he is found walking naked along the motorway, Professor Martin seems different. Besides the lack of clothes, he now finds normal life pointless. His loving wife and teenage son seem repulsive to him. In fact, he hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton. And he's a dog.

Can a bit of Debussy and Emily Dickinson keep him from murder? Can the species which invented cheap white wine and peanut butter sandwiches be all that bad? And what is the warm feeling he gets when he looks into his wife's eyes?

©2013 Matt Haig (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

" The Humans is a laugh-and-cry book. Troubling, thrilling, puzzling, believable and impossible. Matt Haig uses words like a tin-opener. We are the tin." (Jeanette Winterson)
" The Humans is tremendous; a kind of Curious Incident meets The Man Who Fell to Earth. It’s funny, touching and written in a highly appealing voice." (Joanne Harris)
"This is a tender, funny novel about the often irrational ways humans behave, written in accessible prose, and invites comparison with Mark Haddon and Patrick Ness." ( Independent)
"Excellent . . . very human and touching indeed." (Patrick Ness)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A profound and shining star

If I could write like Matt Haig I would be able to express how much I adored this book. When there is so much out there that is cynical and crass it is truly astonishing to pick up and read a story that is so profound and full of compassion. On top of that it is funny and exciting and for the first time in my life I appreciate that mathematics does have some point after all.
This has gone into my top ten all time favourite books. Why? Because when his little finger touched hers I thought this expressed more about love than anything I had ever read before.
I am now impatient to read other books from this wonderful author.
This gets an infinite number of stars from me.

46 of 51 people found this review helpful

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  • Rachel
  • Dromahair, Ireland
  • 06-11-13

Made Me Feel Better About Us

I got this book on the strength of reviews, here and elsewhere, and found it to be really enjoyable. It made me laugh a lot - the author has a way of allowing us to see ourselves from the outside which shows just how ridiculous, contradictory, yet endearing humans can be. As someone who has become rather pessimistic about the future of humanity and our inability to do what is necessary to make the world a better place (I include myself here) this book managed to make me see myself and others in a better light. Maybe humans aren't all bad! Thanks Matt Haig for shining a little light into my bleak outlook.

37 of 41 people found this review helpful

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Mind touching story

I liked this story especially when looking at the human from an external perspective. It is analyzing the basic human needs and emotions that we usually don't think about.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • James
  • Bath, United Kingdom
  • 21-05-13

Surreal,charming, and very.... Human!

This really wasn't what I expected, but I loved this Audiobook, one of my favourites so far, it's also seriously funny in places.

I can massively recommend it, however I don't want to say too much about it because I don't want to give much away. It IS SciFi, but not in a Star Trek sort of way.

Get this and enjoy it.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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One of the best

This has to be one of the best books I have listened to on audible. The narrator is excellent and very easy to listen to. the story is funny, tragic, morbid, comical and ultimately Human.
It makes you look at the simplest things of our everyday lives and gives a different perspective on what it means to be alive and mortal. The beauty of the earth and the wonders of human nature and the world we have created. This book gets a huge big thumbs up from me and I would like to discover more of Matt Haigs books.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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A gentle listen

I don’t often do this, but I read a few of the other reviews before writing my own. I couldn’t quite work out why I took so long to get into this book.

My typical book selection is from the fantasy genre – both contemporary and epic, with a little sci-fi. Occasionally I need a change of pace, and randomly select something left field for me - this turned out to be one of those selections. It is sci-fi, but not as I expected, and I think perhaps I struggled to embrace its observational approach.

Initially, I was a little bored and although the observations about us humans were well presented, and occasionally amusing, I found it a little obvious and predictable. I did eventually warm to the story and the characters, and by half-way I was enjoying it and was even a little sad to come to the end - I can see how other reviewers have given it good reviews. It has some lovely moments, and the pace does pick up by the midpoint, which is probably what I was struggling with initially.

I have no idea whether the mathematical references are correct or not, but they don't detract from the story. (However, I won’t be able to look at a prime number in the same way ever again.)

It’s a gentle listen; an observation on life as a human being, and how we aren’t all that bad despite our obvious failings.

Mark Meadows does a good job as narrator.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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When Cold Logic and Warm Emotion Collide

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I had to give it a try. The basic premise is something friends and I have discussed several times. What would happen if the walking disaster area that the human race represents was judged through purely dispassionate, logical eyes? This book goes further though. It questions what would happen to that cold analysis if it was infused with emotion and earthly beauty or even, most corrupting of all, human nature.

This is a lofty ambition and the book achieves it all in fine style tying things up in what I felt was a very satisfying fashion. It does so through gentle humour as logic and reason gets a damn good stirring of humanity without ever becoming overly-sentimental. It does irk me slightly that the publisher describes it as “hilarious” because while it has genuinely funny moments this is much more than just a comedy.

All of which is nurtured by the narrator’s soft yet strong tones which fit the various stages of the book like a glove. This is a rarely insightful piece of fiction and as such I would strongly recommend it.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Anna
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 09-12-13

surprisingly good

What did you like most about The Humans?

It was surprising. I haven't realised on bying it it will be about 'aliens' - but I'm glad I didn't. I would never have read it and it is worth reading even if you don't like science-fiction (which I don't)

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Humans?

The list of things the main character tells his son to do in life, Written from a perspective of an "alien" it was witty, funny and smart!

Have you listened to any of Mark Meadows’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I've never heard him before, but he was very good.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The list again!

Any additional comments?

The beginning was slightly irritating - a bit too long. but I'm glad I kept on listenieng. The way the "alien" explained to himself the way our world (and especially the UK) works was interesting. Good book!

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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The Frightening Beauty of Being Human

Professor Andrew Martin, Cambridge mathematician, is dead. An alien, in his body, returns in his place. That would normally be enough to make me switch off, turn away, put the book down - but bear with me - The Humans is utterly brilliant. Everyone should have a copy.

In The Humans Matt Haig manages to avoid being twee, ridiculous or schmaltzy. The novel is almost a series of essays, a meditation on what it means to be human, but leavened with humour and held together with some strong narrative glue.

The Humans is a cross between Fermat’s Last Theorem and ET. It’s a glorious mix of science, poetry and what it means to love.

At its heart, The Humans is a modern-day gender-role reversal of The Little Mermaid, a creature who abandons his own atmosphere, trading a life of ease for one of unending suffering, all for love.



21 of 28 people found this review helpful

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thinking of the cloud, I thirsted for the raindrop


This was a delightful surprise, humorous, entertaining, moving and intelligent.
A new version of going native and forgetting the mission because you see through someone else's eyes. Professor Andrew Martin of Cambridge University is not perfect by any means but he has just discovered the solution to the Riemann hypothesis, taking human mathematics to new levels, but others in the universe are washing and will not let primitive violent beings take such a leap. So they kill him and replace him with one of their own, so that he can erase all knowledge of his discovery. We are never quite certain if the change is real or if the professor has really just gone crazy. The change is so radical his family feel that in some ways it is positive and he begins to learn what is like to be human.

“Humans, as a rule, don't like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one era turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rainforests mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes of postcode.” ― Matt Haig, The Humans

Some of the observations are simple but true, and they build a perspective of humanity that is forgiving and but knowing of our shortcomings.

A lovely book to laugh out loud and cry a little while it reminds us of a few of the things we have forgotten to love.

“As a black hole forms it creates an immense gamma-ray burst, blinding whole galaxies with light and destroying millions of worlds. You could disappear at any second. This one. Or this one. Or this one. Make sure, as often as possible, you are doing something you’d be happy to die doing.”
― Matt Haig, The Humans

15 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • Casper
  • 23-03-15

I love it

I came to this by the repeated mentions by Brady haron of the hello internet podcast (audible sponsors the show). This was a fantastic experience, offering excellent insights into humans, love and life. It's a surprisingly philosophical book that well foreshadowed. Honestly, it's the kind of classic that I feel high school English classes should teach.

The performance was good. I listened at 1.25x speed. No complaints, the English accent fit the setting.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alexander
  • 29-12-15

Not a psykology book

The story was predictable, but mildly entertaining. I'm 19, so it might be more fun for an older audience.