To the Universe and Beyond!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ★★★½

It’s been interesting going with this book, the first in the cult classic Hitchhiker series, which chronicles the travels of Arthur Dent, a resident of planet earth whom we meet in his house moments before unbeknownst to him, our planet is about to be destroyed by aliens to make way for an intergalactic highway. Arthur is whisked away into outer-space and saved from certain annihilation by Ford Prefect, an alien from planet Betelgueuse, who has been posing as a human out-of-work actor for fifteen years and who’s real mission is revising a book called, of course, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Along the way they encounter unlikely characters and plenty of impossible events. I haven’t read many fantasy books and can’t say this is my favourite genre by any means, and after I read the hundred first pages felt frustrated and wrote the following on my 75 Books group thread on LibraryThing:

I’m so disappointed with this one. I was absolutely certain I’d enjoy it against all odds, since I remember listening to the BBC broadcasts back in the late 80’s and laughing my head off. With the first chapter, I felt we were off to a good start, but then it became absolute gibberish to me and I had to force myself to get more or less halfway through, and even though it’s a very short book (at just over 200 pages), I don’t have the patience to finish it. It seems like this book was written for people with a particular brain wiring which is obviously nothing like mine, since I could barely make heads nor tails of it. I’m pretty sure I have a funny bone, but I guess that kind of humour just isn’t my cup of tea after all.

I moved on to another book and went back to finish The Guide, after I found myself wondering what had happened to the characters, and especially to Marvin the neurotically depressed robot, then followed up with a revision along these lines:

What a difference 116 pages makes! I gave myself permission to stop reading books when I’m not enjoying them a couple of years ago. But after I posted my original review, curiosity got the better of me and I’m very glad it did, because I can now say I thoroughly enjoyed finishing the rest of the story. So much so that I’ll keep this books as will probably read it again in future. I’ll follow up with the second installation of the series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, quite soon since the person I mooched the first book—which was in almost-new condition—from, also sent me a nearly destroyed copy of the follow-up installation as a freebie, and though I wouldn’t normally want to touch a book in such seriously bad shape, I think I may just pick it up before the year is out to see how the saga continues. Just won’t be reading that one in bed what with brittle brown pages and all. Yuck!

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