Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Wow.  That’s the first time I’ve ever written a review and put “Review” in the title.  This is an historic moment.

Okay.  Moment over.  On with the review.

I finished the first book in the Eclectic Reader Challenge (more information under the “The Challenge” tab) in a shockingly short amount of time.  Granted, this is the first full book I’ve read since the Great LOTR Debacle (Omnitopia Dawn doesn’t count, as I had already gotten started on it beforehand), so it’ll probably take some time for me to get used to Normal Reading Speed once more.

Then again, it was a pretty short book, all told.  Only about 143 pages.  Those pages were pretty small type and pretty big pages, but still.

Don’t think this meant the book was lacking in anything, because it wasn’t.  I was expecting it to be funny, but I wasn’t expecting this quality of humor.  It got to the point where I was making a friend read certain passages because they were just too darn hilarious to pass up.  Highlights included Marvin the Paranoid Android (although I didn’t really get the Paranoid part, as he’s more clinically depressed than anything else) and Eddie the computer.  Although, really, the whole thing was great fun to read.

Aside from the humor, though, I didn’t expect the book to be so satirical.  Irony and sheer wit pervaded the book from the very first page. It contained a surprising amount of commentary on human nature (mostly the more absurd things we do) and society.  The book also sometimes breaks from the main narrative to reveal an interesting tidbit or other from the actual Guide.

One of the novel’s main themes (if I can call it that) is the phenomenon of extraordinary (and meaningless, according to the author) coincidences happening when they are extremely improbable.  Improbability actually factors a lot into the humor and the plot of the story, and here’s where the science-fiction portion of it all comes in.  There’s one scene in particular where the power of improbability is causing all sorts of strange and wonderful things to happen to our main characters, and the reader just has to go along with it.  There’s no making sense of it all, but somehow I could still follow along, and that, to me, is a mark of extremely good writing.

Speaking of the main characters, just one thing I wanted to point out here: there are four (not counting Marvin) main passengers on the Heart of Gold (which is their spaceship): the humans Trillian and Arthur Dent, and the residents of Betelgeuse Five, Zaphod Beeblebrox and Ford Prefect.  I simply wanted to point out that aside from Zaphod being in possession of two heads and three arms, both of these otherworldly individuals are humanoid.  Now, I realize that Ford had to blend in with the humans, and that from a writing standpoint Adams probably wanted us as readers to be able to relate to these characters better than if they were, say, Hoovooloos (which are superintelligent shades of the color blue), but it just seems a little strange to me that two aliens should be so human in appearance, when the author literally had an entire galaxy’s worth of imagined species to choose from.  This also happens, presumably, with the old man on Magrathea, because the narrator doesn’t note anything strange about his own appearance.

It’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it does help to relate to the characters and lends more to the action if I don’t have to keep worrying about how a certain character’s movements and whatnot “look” in my head.  I simply thought it was interesting.

And another thing: the plot was spectacularly paced.  One subplot led straight into another seamlessly.  Even the different books of the trilogy read straight into each other.  When I finished the last page, I was ready to just dive immediately into the first page of The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.  Brilliantly plotted, overall.

And, well, I suppose those are my thoughts on this particular novel.  If we’re rating this…3.5 out of 5 stars.  It would be a four, but I did think the characters were a bit flat.  Either they had oversimplified personalities or really they had no distinct personality at all, and the fact that this was written mostly just to be funny can’t change my opinion that something is lacking.  Maybe Adams flushes them out a little in subsequent books, but I feel this should have been done within the first novel.

This concludes this month’s review.  Next month I will be reviewing a different book, of a different genre, with different pictures.  In the interim, I just finished The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and just started on Scott Westerfeld’s Goliath this weekend.

Side note: John Green’s novel was incredible.

Happy reading.

I Suppose This Post Isn’t Really About One Specific Thing.

Well, readers, it’s the weekend once more.  To be honest, I don’t really have much to talk about.  If you don’t want to read many hundred words of my babbling about books I’m going to read at some point in the future and books I’m reading now, you should probably just stop here.  I won’t be offended; I promise.

My reading is still slow going until I get onto something new, and I haven’t been writing nearly as much as I want to, so there’s nothing coming down that creative channel.  However, I made a promise both to myself and to you lovely people that I would be writing a post twice a week to the best of my ability to do so, and since I’ve been doing almost nothing all afternoon but streaming Parks & Recreation* on my computer, it is most definitely within my ability to write one today.

First off, I suppose I should hash out a game plan for the next year, seeing as how this is our last shot at actually planning out an entire year until the apocalypse (I’m kidding, everyone).  You remember the Eclectic Reading Challenge, don’t you?  Well, I’ve worked out with my oh-so-clever brain that the number of genres I have to read (twelve) corresponds to the number of months in the year (which is also twelve, wouldn’t you know it).  So, my plan is to read and review one book per month.  January’s book will be The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, as per a commenter’s request (just the first one, though; I’m not really in the mood to read a five-book trilogy all at once).

On a related note, did you know the books were based off of a radio series made by the author?  According to Wikipedia, at any rate.  And everyone knows Wikipedia is the best source for factual information.

Moving on.  You can always check out all of the books I’ll be reading for the Challenge up at the page called “The Challenge.”  If you have a book to recommend for me to read next (meaning in February), please, let me know.  Help me make sense of this gigantic stack of books in my room (which will be growing again this week because The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is coming in the mail)(wow, are there a lot of parentheticals in this post).  If you’ve even read this far.  In which case, bonus points to you, good sir or madam!

So, the author's site calls it a "technothriller"...which I suppose is an adequate term.

Last order of business: Omnitopia Dawn, the book I’m hoping to finish quite soon.  I like it a lot, and I think it’s because it’s basically a computer book.  You know the type, with lots of hacker jargon and coding talk.  It’s actually a near-future tale about a World of Warcraft-type online game, in case you need the background.

My main point, though, is that for some reason I love books with lots of technical computer stuff in it.  I’m not sure why, because none of what they’re talking about makes much sense to me.  At the same time, though, I don’t need to understand to understand.  I get the gist of it.  Does that make sense to anyone here?  Another example of this type of book is Evil Genius (which is such a good book, everyone should read it) and, I’m told, Brain Jack, which I bought about a week or so ago but probably won’t get around to for a while. My main point is, do any of you like this subgenre (can I call it that?), readers?  If so, do you feel like you need to understand it, or does it not matter to you?

Well, I think this is a good enough post about nothing at all.  I really do apologize for the lack of actual quality here; apparently the creative side of my brain is taking a sabbatical.  It’s probably from all the Parks & Rec.

Happy reading.

*Speaking of the show, does anyone here watch it?  And if you do, isn’t it AMAZING?!

Novel Journeys’ First Christmas

Readers, I thought I might give you an update on the new books that will now ensure that I never run out of things to do for the next few months when combined with that already intimidating list of novels I haven’t read yet.  So, here is a picture of the books I received as gifts this holiday season:

Sorry it’s so big, but WordPress is no longer cooperating with pictures I put into it.

This doesn’t even include several more that I bought using gift cards that should be here within the next couple of weeks (well, half of them, at any rate.  The other half is coming with a pre-order).  As you can see, this means the To-Be-Read pile accumulated on top of my bookshelf has grown considerably.

Sometimes I wonder why I do this to myself.

Anyway, I’ve wanted most of these books for a while now.  It’s nice to finally be able to finish the steampunky wonder that is the Leviathan trilogy (have I mentioned that I adore Scott Westerfeld’s writing?), as well as the Secret Series.  The Scorpio Races is the latest book by Maggie Stiefvater, another author I admire.  I also received The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe, which is always welcome, and a complete set (in one volume) of all the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books.  I’ve been meaning to read those for a while.  It’s time to get to the bottom of 42 and towels.

In all, I am incredibly grateful to my family for getting me these wonderful books.  Now I’m off to try and finish The Return of the King before the new year so that I can get cracking on that pile.  I hope all of you had a merry Christmas and happy holidays.

My parting question to you, readers, is a predictable one: have you read any of these books?  Were they good?  Bad?  Did they make you want to throw them against the wall?  Leave a comment and tell me what I’m in for (but no spoilers, please)!

Happy reading.