Review of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Rating: Strongly Recommended

Blurb:

Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.

Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.

Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!

Review:

This originally started as a radio drama on BBC Radio, and has been adapted to novels, and a not bad movie. Please, please, PLEASE, do yourself a favor and listen to the radio drama. It is perfect for long road trips. Although comedy is a matter of taste, this is one of the funniest things out there. You need to appreciate science fiction, and dry sense of humor, but it is so funny. I re-listened to it a few weeks ago (I generally don’t review things unless I’ve read/watched/listened to them within the last month or maybe two), trying to find the best lines to quote. I gave up about five minutes in because there are so many good ones. If you are involved in nerd culture at all, this is the source of many of the seemingly random jokes out there: 42 (the answer to the ultimate question of the universe), Don’t Panic (in large, friendly letters), and Don’t Forget Your Towel (or Towel Day, see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Towel_Day).

My favorite part of the loose story arc is the beginning up through their meal at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The story does occasionally get a bit tedious in places, but the comedy moments are a great pay off for the weaker moments. This is full of incredibly random non sequiturs, strange ideas that seemed to have popped into Adams’ head and lead you on to interesting rabbit tracks around the vast reaches of space. If I haven’t convinced you to try it, I’ll leave you with what, after much internal wrestling, I think might be my favorite part. Or at least one of my favorite parts.

“Come now, or you will be late.”

“Late? What for?”

“What is your name, human?”

“Dent. Arthur Dent.”

“Late, as in the late Dentarthurdent. It’s a sort of threat, you see. I’ve never been very good at them myself but I’m told they can be terribly effective.”

Get the radio drama! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Get the first book! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Get the movie! Amazon, Barnes & Noble

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Review of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams (1987) (Dirk Gently Book 1)

Bottom line: Not up to Douglas Adams’s usual standard. Worth a try if you’re a big fan of his other work.

Rating: Recommended IF – you are a Douglas Adams fan

Blurb:

There is a long tradition of Great Detectives, and Dirk Gently does not belong to it. But his search for a missing cat uncovers a ghost, a time traveler, AND the devastating secret of humankind! Detective Gently’s bill for saving the human race from extinction: NO CHARGE.

Review:

I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I had hoped to. From the blurb and the title, I had expected a mystery/sci fi/fantasy mashup, and written by Douglas Adams, to boot! I (obviously) love both the mystery and sci fi/fantasy genres, and I’m a big fan of Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series (read the books (great), listened to the radio drama (fantastic), and seen the movie (meh)) so I thought that if ever there was a book for me, it would be this one.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed. There was kind of a mystery, but not really, and while it has the hallmarks of a Douglas Adams – quirky characters, non sequiturs of plot and dialogue, hapless creatures from other planets, etc. – it just didn’t work for me. The story seemed very disjointed and it felt like the first half to two thirds of the book was intro material. I kept waiting for him to get to the point and bring it all together. There were some hysterically funny, snort out loud on the commuter train kind of moments (yes, I’m that girl), but there weren’t very many of them.

All in all, I’m glad I gave it a try, but I won’t be reading it again. There’s another book in the series out, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, but I don’t see myself reaching for it anytime soon.

Available: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes.

What did you think? Did you like the book?

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