Just having completed this book yesterday, I decided to write about it while it was still fresh in my memory. This particular book was the second of Matt Haig’s narrative stories that I had read, following ‘The Midnight Library’. In the past I had already read two of his non-fiction books, ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ and ‘Notes on a Nervous Planet’, which were fascinating and satisfying in equal measures.
When a Cambridge professor has a breakthrough linked to prime numbers, an alien is sent to inhabit his body and destroy anyone else who knows about his findings. He can not be allowed to enlighten the human race because such powerful knowledge puts other life forms at risk.
The alien who becomes him is not used to emotions such as love and sadness, or even physical pain. Over time he realises that living on Earth is fascinating and his feelings gradually start to get in the way of his task.
Written in Matt’s typically short chapters (which I love, by the way) this book really explores what it is like to be human. When the alien finds himself living in the professor’s home, he discovers just how tricky having a wife and kid can be. He learns about what it is like to care about someone and have them care about him. His inner monologue is great as he often observes normal human things like listening to music or looking after a dog as if they are peculiar and pointless.
The character, who is never given a name, is ruthless in trying to find out who exactly knows about the theorem and does everything he can to wipe all links to that knowledge, but soon starts to feel uncomfortable about having to pop off his family in order to finish his mission and go back home. You feel him being pulled at from all directions and start to empathise with him as he juggles his responsibilities.
Matt unpicks human behaviour cleverly. It makes you think about how odd some of our traditions and routines might seem when seen by outsiders. Anyone landing on our planet for the first time must wonder why we spend so much time arguing or sleeping rather than making the most of every second. Often humorous in his writing, Matt tells a story that is entertaining, emotional and informative.
I totally rate this book 5 out of 5. Definitely read a sample for yourself and let me know what you make of it using the comments bar. Also, if you enjoyed my article, please consider checking out another post about The Midnight Library here. Perhaps also follow my blog as it grows steadily, thanks to wonderful readers like you.