The Humans - Matt Haig Premise: A socially awkward alien lands Earthside, naked on a Cambridge street…And for a while, as Matt Haig builds from this premise, it’s funny! The Humans begins quite wonderfully with the arrival of an alien who can barely disguise his contempt towards humans and believes clothing is optional. The humor works because of our extraterrestrial narrator's terrific voice, which is matter of fact and superior. For example, the first piece of “literature” he reads is an issue of Cosmopolitan, which leads to this pithy discussion of magazines: Magazines are very popular, despite no human’s ever feeling better for having read them. Indeed, their chief purpose is to generate a sense of inferiority in the reader that consequently leads to a feeling of needing to buy something, which the humans then do, and then feel even worse, and so need to buy another magazine to see what they can buy next. It is an eternal and unhappy spiral that goes by the name of capitalism, and it is really quite popular. I would have liked an entire book of this: just a doofy alien in human form walking around the modern world trying—and failing—to make sense of it.Wishes never come true, however, so the last half of the book ditches the humor and devolves into New Age mumbo jumbo. The plot is unoriginal. Basically an alien comes to save Earth from too much knowledge, learns to appreciate humans, and abandons his old alien life to become a regular Joe Schmo. To supplement this lack of plot, Haig tries to explore the meaning of life through our bumbling old alien narrator, whose voice becomes instantly less charming as soon as he’s humanized.Blah. The moment someone expressly searches for the meaning of life is the moment I roll my eyes. Sure I find meaning aplenty in books, but it must arise organically through the natural interaction of characters and their environments. Even worse, the meaning of life discovered by Haig’s alien is more clichéd than a Hallmark card. There are a ton of lines like this at the end that made me figuratively gag: To experience beauty on Earth, you needed to experience pain and to know mortality. That is why so much that is beautiful on this planet has to do with time passing and the Earth turning. Which might also explain why to look at such natural beauty was to also feel sadness and a craving for a life unlived. There are tons of quotes about how “love is life” and how “it’s only through our flaws that we can truly appreciate humankind." By this point, I’d mostly checked out, hoping the narrator had one last good joke in him about Catholics. (He didn’t.) The reason the alien comes to Earth is to destroy a mathematical proof. So here’s some reviewing math for The Humans: smart-alecky alien who makes fun of humankind (4 stars) + heavy-handed existential tripe (2 stars) = 3 stars. Boom, math.