Saturday, 20 November 2010
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Synopsis: Arthur Dent is saved by his friend Ford when the Earth is completely destroyed to make way for an intergalactic bypass. With only the interactive Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy for help, they find themselves caught up in a series of highly improbable adventures.
Score: 3 out of 5
First off, I very much enjoyed the irony and humour of the book. There was one section in particular when Adams was satirising philosophers that had me genuinely laughing out loud. The humour added to the pace of the book nicely, keeping things ticking along without getting boring. The main character, Arthur, was an "everyman" and very easy to relate to and root for. The secondary characters were interesting too, if not fully well rounded.
There was just something about the book that put me off - it seemed crammed full of in-jokes that people enjoy because they are an in-jokes rather than because they are actually funny. Like some kind of exclusive club. Yes, it was slightly amusing for the answer to life, the universe and everything being '42' but I just didn't get why it has become such a big thing in popular culture.
In some ways, Adams was very clever in the book. The Hitchhiker's guide, an interactive book where users add their own content, could be thought of as foreshadowing Wikipedia (and Adams was writing back in 1972). If only his plot showed the same creativity too. The improbability generator just seemed like a very convenient way to get the characters out of some very sticky situations without actually thinking it through. If there are any massive fans out there, please don't hate me for this!
So whilst the book was a light, enjoyable read, it's not one I would read again, and nor will I be reading any of the sequels. It's rare for me to say this, but I much preferred the film adaptation to the book.