I started following Matt Haig on Twitter after one of his books (How To Stop Time) featured on Lush Book Club, with the intention of reading said book, and immediately I found his voice to be one I understood and respected relentlessly. Of course I am yet to read How To Stop Time, but I did eventually decide that it was about time I actually made a start on his collection. Easy decision then when it came to my Mum asking what I wanted for Christmas; any book by Matt Haig please!
The two books I received were How To Stop Time and The Humans. Alongside these were other books by different authors, so safe to say I was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing where to start. There was obviously no other option then to go to Instagram with a picture of all books and ask for help. The responses were unanimous, “You must read The Humans!”
So I delved in and at first it was strange, reading Haig’s words that were quite frankly in a similar tone to his tweets that I was so familiar with. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to separate his voice from the narrator, but that didn’t last too long. I have to admit, at first I felt the wording was almost too casual and perhaps quite close to home when it came to talking about this world that existed in the book, that void from alien visitors (I hope) was so similar to the real world we live in. I enjoy reading because it can take me out of my own world, but from time to time, this one just felt a little too real. Again however, my concerns didn’t last long.
The first half of the book was read in a few small sittings, most likely because of me getting into the habit of reading again. It’s so easy to slip out of, but not always so easy to get back into. This book was different though. I remember it picking up momentum on the train back home, but this is hardly surprising. I always read better on the train. There are less distractions, especially when I’ve already scrolled through the same feed on social media twice over. I will say it is fairly predictable, but in the most delightful way. There is a real connection to the narrator, despite not knowing everything about them. I think it comes down to the narration being directed to the reader as someone of the same alien species, while at the same time exploring the human race. It takes you out of your human mind and provides an entirely new perspective on how we live, even through telling us everything we already know.
The second half of the book was read in more or less one sitting (with only one break to read some blog posts). This book was so gripping, but equally so easy to read. As well as a touching story line, it provides you with the opportunity to laugh at yourself, as well as feel for the characters, it really is entirely immersive. It has made me appreciate the small things that make us human, like music, our favourite food and everything in between. Of course I’ve always appreciated music and that’s no secret, but it has relit that fire in me to discover more music, old and new.
The Humans is like a sneaky self help book, using an alien narrative to shroud its little tips and tricks for life in fantasy, as well as offering little reminders of those things that bring joy. I highly recommend this book, to anyone really, but especially those trying to get back on the reading wagon. It really is delightful in its ability to dig deep in beautiful simplicity, I will absolutely be revisiting this some time in the near future.