I read this book when I was working at Booktrust and Matt was their online writer-in-residence and I completely loved it – it’s so many things rolled into one – comedy, family drama, sci-fi, MATHS… but the overall thing I have to commend it for is that it genuinely makes you stop and take a moment to appreciate being ALIVE. Now isn’t that a pretty great achievement?
I have given this book to so many people to read, especially if you’re feeling a bit blue, it is a real pick-me-up read – I also gave it away on World Book Night. I’m a bit obsessed, and I’M NOT EVEN BEING PAID BY MATT HAIG!!
The book follows Cambridge Mathematics professor Andrew Martin – who by all accounts is kind of a d-bag. He’s self righteous, doesn’t get on with his wife and son and is very aware he’s cleverer than most people. But then one wet Friday night he solves a GIANT MATHS PROBLEM (I don’t know anything about maths, but don’t worry that stays abstract enough that it doesn’t matter!) and immediately disappears, only to reappear walking naked along the motorway.
It’s not really a spoiler to reveal this is because aliens have been watching him from afar and have realised that if he were to reveal the answer to THE GIANT MATHS PROBLEM it would advance the human race too quickly for their own good and so they have sent one of their own to ensure all evidence of the solution is destroyed. Whilst this sounds a bit wacky, I promise you it is a brilliant concept for a novel and you should in no way be put off if you’re not a Sci Fi fan (but why aren’t you??). Having said that, I think the humour is very Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so if you like that sort of this, this will definitely be your bag.
As the alien occupying Professor Martin’s body quickly discovers, there’s plenty difficult, nonsensical and primitive about being a human. But then he discovers peanut butter… and music… and a cold glass of wine on a summer evening. Could he find there’s more to life on Earth?
One of the great things Matt did around release was get people from Twitter and Facebook to read a line each from one of the chapters, entitled “Advice for a human” – so I’ll leave you with that – why not join in and read with us and tell us your thoughts at the end of the month?