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Book review: The Humans

Published: March 1, 2023
Last updated on May 24, 2023

The Humans is the tale of an extra-terrestrial who takes the form of esteemed mathematician Professor Andrew Martin. Sent by the ‘Hosts’, the alien’s mission is to destroy all evidence of the professor’s game-changing solution to a mathematical hypothesis. However, through interactions with the professor’s wife, son, and best friend, the nameless alien discovers what it’s like to be human and begins questioning the justification of his assignment.

Basic information
Author: Matt Haig
Title: The Humans
Versions: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook, E-book, Audio CD
ISBN-13: 978-1476730592
Pages: 304
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publishing year: 2013
Genres: Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Humor

Reprint edition
Pages: 320
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publishing year: 2014


Purchase the book here:

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht’s book rating: 8 for ease of reading, 9 for practical application, and 9 overall rating.

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht’s book rating: 8 for ease of reading, 9 for practical application, and 9 overall rating.

Favourite quote

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.

Basically, the key rule is, if you want to appear sane on Earth you have to be in the right place, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things, and only stepping on the right kind of grass.

About the author

Matt Haig is an author of fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. His award-winning novels for adults include How to Stop Time, The Radleys, The Humans, and The Midnight Library. His children’s book, A Boy Called Christmas, has been translated into over 40 languages and was adapted for film in 2021.

At age 46, shortly after the publication of The Midnight Library, Matt Haig received a diagnosis of autism and ADHD.


Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht ND RP

I loved most all of this book. Pretty quickly into reading it, I exclaimed to Kendall, Matt Haig must be autistic! Matt’s version of the world through the eyes of an alien was so relatable to me as an autistic.

I enjoyed the first three quarters of the book more than the ending, but the ending was fine, just not as fun.


Can an extraterrestrial, in the guise of Professor Andrew Martin, save the universe from future humans by destroying all evidence of the professor’s recent mathematical breakthrough? The Humans, by Matt Haig, is humorous, dark, contemplative, sometimes startling, and often whimsically absurd.

Mark Meadows voices the Audible version to excellent effect. The dialog is rendered with expression but stops short of doing full-character voices—a practice I find distracting and annoying in an audiobook.

Lest I give too much away, prime numbers are a featured concept in the story. As I have a fascination with their mystical nature, that was appealing. I liked that my every question about the alien’s home planet and way of life was not answered. There is just enough description to create conjecture regarding other aspects. I enjoyed The Humans and would recommend it to fans of science fiction.


Chapter titles

Table of contents presents an overview of what is in the book. Note: that they are not links.

The Humans
§Section titleChapter title
Preface:An Illogical Hope in the Face of Overwhelming Anxiety
I Took My Power in My HandThe Man I Was Not
Detached Nouns and Other Early Trials for the Language Learner
Corpus Christi
Human Clothes
Mad People
The Cubic Root of 912,673
Dead Cows
The World as Will and Representation
4 Campion Row
The War and Money Show
A Stranger
Starting the Sequence
A Moment of Sheer Terror
The Distribution of Prime Numbers
Dark Matter
Emily Dickinson
A Large House
Daniel Russell
The Pain
Where We Are From
The Dog and the Music
Grigori Perelman
Crunchy Wholenut Peanut Butter
Isobel's Dance
The Mother
I Held a Jewel in My FingersSleepwalking
I Was a Wasn't
Wider Than the Sky
A Few Seconds of Silence over Breakfast
The Zeta Function
The Problem with Equations
The Violet
The Possibility of Pain
Sloping Roofs (and Other Ways to Deal with the Rain)
The Things with Feathers
Heaven Is a Place Where Nothing Ever Happens
In Between
Two Weeks in the Dordogne and a Box of Dominoes
Social Networking
Forever Is Composed of Nows
The Taste of Her Skin
The Rhythm of Life
Australian Wine
The Watcher
How to See Forever
The Intruder
Perfect Time
A King of Infinite Space
The Art of Letting Go
Neuroadaptive Activity
Platykurtic Distribution
The Hat and Feathers
The Ideal Castle
Somewhere Else
Places Beyond Logic
The Wounded Deer Leaps the HighestAn Encounter with Winston Churchill
The Replacement
A Game
90.2 MHz
The Ultimate Crime
The Nature of Reality
A Face as Shocked as the Moon
The Second Type of Gravity
Advice for a Human
A Very Brief Hug
The Melancholy Beauty of the Setting Sun
When Galaxies Collide


This article
was written by:

Dr. Natalie Engelbrecht ND RP is a dually licensed registered psychotherapist and naturopathic doctor, and a Canadian leader in trauma and PTSD, and she happens to be autistic; she was diagnosed at 46.

And not only does she happens to be autistic, but her autism plays a significant role in who she is as a doctor and how she interacts with her patients and clients.

Kendall Jones is a musician and sound engineer from Louisiana, with an affinity for both music and language. He was diagnosed late in life, at 61.


Although our content is generally well-researched
and substantiated, or based on personal experience,
note that it does not constitute medical advice.


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