• The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
• Paperback: 216 pages
• Publisher: Pocket, 1991 (first published in 1979)
• ISBN: 0671746065
• Genre: Science Fiction/Humor/Classics
• Recommended For: Anyone who has even the slightest sense of silly humor.
Quick Review: Earns a 98 %, or 4.8 stars out of 5. Check out my rubric for my detailed assessment. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Rubric
This review might work for you, it might not. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and, assumedly, the rest of the books in the series) is a book you either get or you don’t. I got it, absolutely, 5-star-loved it, and it seems that the majority of other Goodreads readers got it and loved it as well. But, be warned, this is an insane, very silly book in the way of Monty Python. I highly recommend it.
How I Got Here: One of the first computer games that my dad ever bought me was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a text-based game with zero graphics. The content of the game came straight from the novel, and I absolutely loved it (although it was a really hard game for someone who had never read the book). I loved the zaniness, the humor, and the characters. I bought the book for my husband some years ago, he loved it, and for some reason, I still hadn’t read it until this year. 22 years later after playing the game! By the way, apparently the video game is now available online! Check it out here!
The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis
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!
My Analysis and Critique:
This review might be biased. Biased in the way that I LOVE silly humor, especially silly English humor, and this book is chock-full of it. I also love science fiction, so this book was a match made in heaven for me. With that said, if you don’t dig silly English humor, you might not like this book. Although, I still find that hard to believe.
I love the plot of the story, full of all of its twists and turns and lunacy. I love the characters, both major, but especially minor. The humorous tone is awesome and I rarely read without a smile or an out and out “HA!” exclamation. The science fiction in the novel is equally good, and there were moments when I read about devices thinking that’s just like an I-pod! or The Hitchhiker’s Guide is an E-Reader!. This is one of my favorite aspects of science fiction, the amazing ability of science fiction writers to imagine up the actual future. It happens in Bradbury and Orwell, and it turns out that Adams had the same uncanny ability.
Really, all there is to say, is that I loved this book. Instead of going on in my praise, I’ll just provide the opening lines of the book, which truly reflect the spirit and tone of the novel. If you are intrigued and amused by this excerpt, chances are you’ll love what the rest of the novel offers.
Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.
This planet has–or rather had–a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change, a girl sitting on her own in a small cafe in Rickmansworth suddenly realized what it was that had gone wrong all this time, and she finally knew how the world could be made a good and happy place. This time it was right, it would work, and no one would have to get nailed to anything.
Sadly, however, before she could get to a phone to tell anyone about it, a terrible, stupid catastrophe occurred, and the idea was lost for ever.
This is not her story.