Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
Publisher: Young Picador
Released: October 12th 1979
Pages: 224 (Paperback)
Buy: Amazon

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.

I have never read a bad review of this novel. Whenever I mentioned that I wanted to read this book, people immediately told me that I'd love it - that I have a Babelfish in my ear, anyway. I was convinced that I would find this book amazing - great concept, witty author, and a film with Martin Freeman in it - what could be better? Unfortunately - brace yourself for the anticlimaxes of all anticlimaxes since Twilight - I didn't like it.

The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is technically a novel written by Ford Prefect, one of the characters in the story. It is essentially what it says on the box - it is a guide to the galaxy, and contains lots of weird and wonderful information. However, although the book is named after a book in the story (confusing I know) this isn't about different races of aliens; it's about Arthur Dent, your average human being, who's house was demolished, planet was destroyed, and who is now hitchhiking his way across the galaxy with his friend, Ford.

Firstly, I did love the premise of it all - I'm very into science fiction and all-things nerdy, so I was immediately intrigued by the idea of someone hitchhiking their way around the Universe, meeting different weird and wonderful aliens along the way, and stumbling upon some pretty weird concepts. Adams wrote it in such a way that I found myself multiple times laughing out loud and receiving glares from strangers - it was weird and hilarious and wonderful, and I cannot fault the man for any of that. But something just didn't click.

It was pretty boring, to start with. I like action-packed books, and whilst stuff happened, it didn't send your heart racing. I don't know whether if I had read this when I was younger I would have enjoyed it more, as I find with A Series of Unfortunate Events, but it was really dull. Once I'd finished it, I was left there feeling very...disappointed? Tired? I did have high expectations for it, sure, but not so much that anything wouldn't be good in comparison. I just didn't understand what was supposed to happen. I got that it was meant to be weird and for a lot of it to not make sense, but there was a lack of plot. Lots of stuff happened but nothing happened, that's the only way I can properly describe it.

The characters were funny, but dull. Arthur was boring, Ford was stupid, Zaphod was predictable, and Trillian was unnecessary  The only character I truly loved was Marvin, the paranoid android. Everything that popped out of his mouth had me in fits, and I loved the parts of the story that he was in. The doors were good too, and Marvin's reaction to them were hysterical. If that pace and sarcasm had been brought into the rest of the novel, I think I would have liked it much better.

One last thing I must point out is that although I love sci-fi, I detest anything to do with maths and physics - and this novel, talking about the different dimensions and rules of space, was pretty much my Physics' teacher's idea of heaven. As soon as I saw words like velocity and parsecs, Adams had me lost - I hate these concepts in lessons, and I hate them even more in books. So I reckon that this definitely had something to do with it's low-star rating, and if you are a lover of physics, then I'd definitely suggest for you to read this - it's just my biased mind talking. However, if you hate physics, steer clear of this at all costs!

Overall, I enjoyed parts of the book, but not enough to love it. Something just didn't click with me, and I guess I feel sad that I have connected with a book that so many people who know me quite well thought I'd enjoy. I do think it is one of those novels that you have to read at least once in your lifetime, so in that sense I am glad I read it. But will I be reading the sequel and the rest of the series? Heck no!
Rating: 2/5

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