The Humans by Matt Haig

The Humans by Matt Haig

Sometimes it takes an alien to tell us humans how to live.

The Vonnadorians are advanced beings who come to our messy, wet planet and think we, The Humans, are inferior. They believe we are not ready for more technological progress so they eliminate Professor Andrew Martin, who has made a breakthrough in mathematics which would change the course of humanity’s future. Naturally, they replace him with an alien look-alike who is ill-prepared for his mission to erase any knowledge of the Cambridge professor’s work--and to destroy anyone who knows about it.

Problems arise when the new Andrew Martin discovers that he and his fellow Vonnadorians have serious prejudices and misconceptions about Earthlings and that being human isn’t so bad, even though they have ugly protuberances in the middle of the their faces.  His journey to understanding us is funny, sweet, and touching.

The book is told as part memoir and part textbook for the Vonnadorians to read as a guide, as it is an account of the fake Professor Martin’s adventures on Earth. Dumped naked and in the wrong location to meet his Earth family, he finds and reads Cosmopolitan magazine as a guide to learn the language and etiquette of the human race. Matt Haig has some great one-liners and Third-Rock-from-the-Sun humor, but the author also turns thoughtful as he contemplates what it is to be human as alien Andrew learns to love his wife, child, dog, poetry, sunsets, and peanut butter.

The Vonnedorians have immortality and rationality in their mathematical culture. There is no pain or hatred.  There are no families on Vonnedoria--just Hosts to give instruction. They think the humans are all like the real Andrew Martin: self-serving and money-grubbing. At last, the time comes when alien Andrew has to explain to the Big Brother Vonnedorians what he has learned, and he has to make a decision about his future and the real meaning of home.