Matt Haig has created something rather special here.
'The Humans' is a book about the strange creature that is the human being, told from the perspective of an alien who finds himself inhabiting the body of a Cambridge mathematics professor. It's an odd premise for a book and it sounds like the story should belong in the sci-fi genre; however, it's actually more of a dramatic, dark-comedy vehicle that will appeal to a much wider audience base.
In The Humans, Haig successfully pulls off the feat of describing many of the peculiarities of the lives of human beings, as if they are being observed by a logical, rational outsider. Then, and this is where Haig skill as story teller becomes evident, the alien slowly learns about and sympathises with the human condition as the story moves on and the alien learns through direct experience. At this point, the the alien's mission starts to go off course.
The chapters in The Humans are extremely short, tending not to run past 3 or 4 pages, which makes for a very interesting format and keeps the reader turning the page.
***** (it's been some time since I last landed on a contemporary gem).
..So, I thought to myself as I walked away, this is what happens when you live on Earth. You hold reality in your hands until it burns and then you have to drop the plate. ...Yes, I could see it now - being a human sent you insane.
Human life, I realised, got progressively worse as you got older, by the sound of things. You arrived, with baby feet and hands and infinite happiness, and then the happiness slowly evaporated as your feet and hands grew bigger. And then, from the teenage years onwards, happiness was something you could lose your grip of, and once it started to slip it gained mass. It was as if the knowledge that it could slip was the thing that made it more difficult to hold, no matter how big your feet and hands were.
'But you, you've got surprise on your side. You aren't scared of anything. All you've got to do is realise that this Theo symbolizes everything you've ever hated. He is me. He is bad weather. He is the primitive soul of the internet. He is the injustice of fate. I am asking, in other words, for you to fight him like you fight on your sleep. Lose everything. Lose all shame and consciousness and beat him. Because you can.'
She smiled but sadness quickly claimed her.
'...man can only attain his desire by passing through the opposite.' - Soren Kierkergaard.
43. Everything matters.
45. A paradox. The things you don't need to live - books, art, cinema, wine and so on - are the things you need to live.
73. No one will understand you. It is not, ultimately, that important. What is important is that you understand you.