Review - Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

"Life, loathe it, or ignore it, you can’t like it.”

That, my friends, is now my all-time favorite quote from a book. It encapsulates to perfection my feelings on my own life. The book it’s from is my last read, “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” and I this is my rambling review.

Prior to actually reading it, I knew of Douglas Adams’ famous comedy/sci-fi epic as early as high school. The group of people who loved Monty Python, Red Planet, British humor in general, also loved Hitchhiker’s. They’d walk around with “42’s” scribbled on their jackets and doodling “Don’t Panic” on their binders…a cool and sometimes weird crew, but I didn’t get British humor or fully understand the crowd that worshipped the comedy from across the pond, so I just wasn’t interested.

British humor is the polar opposite of gross-out humor. If you don’t enjoy gross-out humor, you feel more intelligent and so above laughing at a fart joke. But with British humor, if you don’t get it, you feel a like your IQ dropped a few points (it’s the accents you see), which is frustrating and actually makes you a little mad.

Fast forward a decade or so to the movie adaptation. The one where I was mildly entertained at some points, irritated at other times or just asleep. I didn’t enjoy it much at all. So when my geek friends and my book friends were all telling me “READ THE BOOK, you’ll love it. It’s better than the movie.” I didn’t much believe them of course, but I got it for free at a used book sale and set about reading it.

Let me say, I LOVED this book so much. Just a few pages in I felt like I’d gotten a refund for the money I paid to see the movie. It was laugh out loud funny, imaginative, whimsical, absurd and just plain witty. If somehow I were to get struck by lightning and became super-smart, I think I would write in a style very similar to Adams.

The book tells the story of Arthur Dent and his travels across the Galaxy with his alien friend Ford Prefect and few other zany extraterrestrials (who actually aren’t extra at all since Arthur himself becomes an alien when the Earth is blown up to make way for a new galactic highway, he’s just hitching a ride after that). There is a depressed android, Marvin (who uttered my now-favorite quote) and even a nuclear bomb that turns into a sperm whale (how hilarious is that? Very.). What is the Ultimate Question in life? Just read the book, you’ll roar with laughter at how Arthur and his crew get to the answer.

The movie makes a few glaring errors which the book does not. First and foremost, Sam Rockwell, whom I usually love, as Zaphod Beeblebrox did not do justice to the character. In the book Zaphod is a bit egotistical, very much daft, but likable. Sam doesn’t play him that way, so basically he’s this alien prima donna that is very annoying and you could care less about. Also, why does Hollywood feel the need to force a romance on the audience in every movie? I didn’t care for that storyline involving Arthur and the female lead, Trillian, in the movie and to my pleasant surprise it wasn’t featured in the book at all.

I guess if there was one complaint, it was the movie invading my brain as I was reading, forcing Sam’s face into my imagination. Sure, it can’t be helped that you compare movie to book and vice versa, but if the movie isn’t interesting then you have to overcome your negative preconceived ideas (I will be reading I Am Legend and No Country for Old Men before I see the movie). But Adams did wonders with his writing so I was able to overcome my negative thoughts. Oh, another nitpick is my read ended rather abruptly, but that means I need to get the sequels a.s.a.p.

My edition also had a 100-page guide on the making of the movie and being the completist that I am, I read it. The information was revealing, if a little dull. It really made me appreciate how much Adams wanted a good movie to be made and how much the makers of the movie cared very much that they did just that. Yes, they missed the mark, but their hearts were in it and they tried.

Ok, so I give HHGTHG a solid 4.5 out of 5 Iggystars.

Next book is the autobiography of African model Alek Wek called Alek. She was a Sudanese refugee as a child and is now an international supermodel with a very unique and highly sought after look.

P.S. A special thank you goes out to Kookiejar as she was the main reason I finally decided to read Hitchhiker's.


kookiejar said...

Oh Iggy, it was my pleasure. I try to get everyone to read this. I love it so! I'm so happy you enjoyed it. You must read the sequels as soon as possible! They are not quite as good, but still wonderful.

raidergirl3 said...

I read Hitchhiker for the first time this year too and quite enjoyed the humor. I haven't got back to the next books yet, nor have I seen the movie, ...sigh, eventually.

John Mutford said...

This is one of the books I regret not having read yet. So many books, so little time, I guess. But on the plus side, I won't have the movie to invade my interpretation- like Raidergirl, I haven't seen it either. And with your comments on it, I don't think I'll bother. Is there anything worse than a tacked on romance?