Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Facts

216 pages
Author: Douglas Adams
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Hitchhiker’s Guide Series #1

Summary taken from the back of the book

Seconds before 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 a galaxyful of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian (formerly Tricia McMillan), Zaphod’s girlfriend, whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; and Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he’s bought over the years.  Where are these pens?  Why are we born?  Why do we die?  For all the answers, stick your thumb to the stars!

Overall Impression

Honestly, I’ve been trying to make myself do this book review for days but couldn’t bring myself to do it since I really wasn’t a fan of this book.  I copied the summary from the back since I couldn’t trust myself to do an unbiased one.  I was surprised by my reaction to this book since I have heard such great reviews of it in the past, but maybe my expectations were too high.  Also, I neglected to consider a few important facts.  1) I’m not a huge fan of science fiction 2) I don’t like completely random books.  This book really bothered me because the plot lacks direction.

Having said this, I did enjoy Adams’ witty remarks and creative ideas throughout the novel.  I think the clever puns are the cause of such high reviews for the book.  Adams writes well, but I don’t think simply having a funny book merits its reputation.  I also really enjoyed the character Marvin, despite the concept of a depressed robot being incredibly sad.  I didn’t find the other characters very likeable or special which definitely contributed to my dislike for the book.  The book is pleasant if you’re looking for a different and easy to read book, but I did not find it very captivating and had no motivation to continue reading.

I think the best and scariest message of Adams’ book is that anything we do on Earth is relatively insignificant, since we really have no idea what else is going on in the galaxy or what bigger plans we are a part of.

Rating
5/10

I feel like this is a very low rating for such a highly acclaimed book, but I really struggled getting through it and I want to keep my reviews honest, if nothing else.  For this book, think of my rating as being more personal rather than a recommendation or warning – since I think others might appreciate this more than I did.  It really was the randomness of the novel that got to me.

Trailer
The movie adaptation for this book came out in 2005.  The trailer is shown here.

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11 comments on “Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  1. Sorry you didn’t really like Hitchhiker’s… I really enjoyed these books, I found it quite funny. Did you read all 5 books?

    • Michelle says:

      I only read the first one. I found it pretty funny at first, but just lost interest with the plot. It could have just been the time I read it that caused me to lose focus and motivation. Maybe I’ll give it another shot in the future.

  2. missusk76 says:

    I had the same reaction when I made myself read it a few years ago. I appreciated the wit and writing, but it kept loosing me. I think if I ever have a week on a beach to do nothing but read I might be able to follow it better. The only science fiction I ever really enjoyed was Ender’s Game.

  3. I’m not a fan either, and I do read a lot of sci fi. In fact I don’t really consider those books to be sci-fi even though there are aliens, space ships etc. For me, “sci-fi” has to start with some kind of a serious idea, a real speculation. I guess you could say that Hitchhiker speculates about what would happen if aliens needed to destroy our planet to make way for an interstellar highway, but I don’t think Douglas Adams was really trying to make a point. I think he was just being self-indulgent. The rest of the series doesn’t get any better. Just more of the same.

    • Michelle says:

      Yeah, that was my main concern too. There just didn’t seem to be a point and that irritated me. I guess it could be enjoyable for a light read. I’ll have to read some other sci-fi sometime to give it a shot since I’ve never really tried much of the genre. Any suggestions?

  4. Jean says:

    I think you either love or dislike the Hitchhiker’s series–it’s not for everyone. Also, it helps if you’re 14 when you first encounter it. I love them and am especially fond of Agrajag.

    I’m more of a fantasy than SF person, but here are my favorites: Diana Wynne Jones, Connie Willis (esp. the Oxford time-travel ones), Brandon Sanderson, Kage Baker.

    • Michelle says:

      I read The Griffin by Jones and liked that, but I still have to check out more of her books. I’ll have to look into the other authors too. I was just disappointed when Hitchhiker’s failed to live up to what I had heard.

  5. ‘I don’t think Douglas Adams was really trying to make a point. I think he was just being self-indulgent.’ There may not be any one point, or even any collection of moderately serious points. But there is – in Adams – a whole load of what his biographer Nick Webb called ‘perspective shifts’, whereby one gets a novel, very funny, and often somewhat philosophical presentation on something – be that something sanity, economics, vegetarianism, authority, immortality, or what have you. There’s a lot of satire too (and sometimes via the same perspective shifts). Think, for instance, of the ‘”B” Ark’. That’s a spaceship containing the whole useless third of a planet’s population – the people who don’t do anything useful, or really do anything at all, as against the doers on the one hand and the rulers/thinkers on the other. These people get sent off into space on the pretence that the other two thirds will be following them. They don’t follow them, but the useless third turn out to be humanity’s ancestors. Think also of ‘Wonko the Sane’ who, after discovering instructions on toothpicks, builds an asylum inside out, such that the whole world – except him inside the house – is enclosed in it! I don’t think such stuff counts as self-indulgent!

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