Have you ever wondered what an alien would make of life on Earth? Well Cambridge maths Professor Andrew Martin could be the one answering the question. Although he has just solved a seemingly impossible-to-solve mathematical problem, everything else seems to be at odds, and it's only going to get worse before it gets better.
In this perceptive and quirky commentary on the experience of the human condition from someone with little experience, Prof Martin offers the reader wry and humorous observations on the contrariness of modern living and the challenges of love and life for those who call Earth home.
Clever, lighthearted and quirky! We found this a fairly easy read. Within the group there were mixed views about the "alien" premise of the book, which lead to an interesting discussion about the rate of scientific and technological change outpacing our social, ethical and moral codes. So all in all a good discussion, despite our differing views of the book.
An easy read. Mostly enjoyed. Felt it could have finished a bit early but everyone liked the unusual perspective, and engaged our thinking about humans as how others may see us and our own intercultural perceptions.
Most of our group didn't enjoy the book and struggled to finish it. They were irritated by the inconsistencies,(e.g surely a being of such intelligence would know to wear clothes) Isobel (what was she like, and why did she stay in such an unrewarding marriage) and didn't like the premise of using an alien. Those who liked it, enjoyed the quirky originality, objective humorous perspective of an alien, the philosophical musings on greed, violence, and the role of suffering, the transformational power of love, the list of life advice he left for his son, and the happy ending.
Really enjoyed by many in the group - clever, witty, good one-liners, and memorable. A small number in the group not so enamoured by the book - finding it sad and depressing.
An interesting book which provoked some good discussion. Some, who don't like science fiction, were not engaged with the way in which it was written. Most thought it funny and enlightening.
We loved the observations on human life. Every member enjoyed the book (unusual). The revelations on "advice for human life" were meaningful for all - we were amused by the cynical comments on the hypocrisy of human behaviour. Most worthwhile reading.
Group members were all very positive in their comments - loved it, hooked me in, easy ready, clever device, would definitely recommend, quirky, made you think.
Most of the group were surprised they enjoyed it as much as they did. Very good - different.
Some of us loved this book, some of us liked it, and one thought it was OK. It generated a brilliant discussion about all sorts of things. Is it really necessary to wear clothes Is the human race just not smart enough to handle social media Why don't I read more poetry We pondered our existence.... Intense thoughts from a book that feels like an easy light read.
Unusual start put some people off. Those who persisted enjoyed it a lot. It was an interesting premise to use an unsolved mathematical problem as a basis for a novel about aliens. It was emotionally engaging. Even our mathematician enjoyed it.
We all loved this book. Had a great discussion as we saw it from different angles - lovely concept.
During first thoughts, about half the group said they wouldn't recommend it as a good read. However, by the time we had finished the discussion some of them had changed their minds and were interested in reading his other books. The questions at first seemed very onerous but they did lead to good discussion.
A being from across the universe is sent to take care of knowledge they think humans aren't ready for. It doesn't go as planned. Humans have a way of getting under your skin. A really nice perspective on being human. Through the character's eyes, we get a funny, insightful view on the human condition. What makes us unique and how do we carry on through pain and heartache.
This book provoked more discussion than any other for a long time. We all thought that it was completely unbelievable but that, in this case, it was ok to suspend belief. We liked its sly humour and were mildly annoyed with the obvious inconsistencies in the story. But perhaps, as suggested in the notes, it was all a psychotic episode of the narrator. We couldn't tell, but concluded that despite the book's apparent superficiality perhaps it was a bit deeper than it appeared at first.
Mixed response from our group. Some found it mundane and couldn't finish it, while others found it an interesting perspective on humanity, and an entertaining easy read.
The majority read the book, and certainly found it interesting if not a little bizarre! We loved "Advice for a Human" on page 271.
As a group there was a wide range of opinion! Rated from 5-9, and one person who couldn't get into it at all. Most really applauded the 'unusualness' of the story, the humour and the fact that it was written by such a young author.
We found this book very engrossing. Although it included fantasy, it gave you a picture of how scary it would be if you suddenly realised that your idea of yourself had changed, and you didn't fit into the world as you thought you did.
Some of the group enjoyed, others disliked.
We loved the book and had a brilliant discussion around the excellent questions.