pan books

Book Review: Mostly Harmless


Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #5) – Paperback, 230 pages – Published September 1st 2009 by Pan Books

Mostly Harmless is the final book in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams. It was originally mean to consist of only three books, but ended up far longer.

In typical Hitchhiker fashion, the plot is a bit all over the place. Everything cleverly fits together, and everything that happens is so absurdly peculiar that you can’t help but laugh.

Some things in this book are a bit hard to follow, but the gist is generally pretty easy to catch. As there isn’t a single plot exactly, I’ll try to summarise some of the main happenings in the novel.

Okay, so Earth had been demolished, Trillian was gone, and Arthur was in love with Fenchurch. But Fenchurch disappeared – literally, disappeared – and Tricia McMillan was back on Earth. It turns out that aliens are rather fond of astronomy, and Earth sometimes appears on the probability timeline, and sometimes doesn’t. During one of these times, Arthur ends up on a strange planet named NowWhat in the place where Earth should be.

It’s thanks to the Whole Sort of General Mish Mash – which is a lot more complicated than we ever believed parallel universes to be. On his travels, Arthur visits a village of oracles and becomes the Sandwich Maker in a small settlement on a peculiar planet, supposedly ruled by Bob. Everything was going swimmingly for him, until his daughter – yes, Arthur’s daughter – turns up, followed by a peculiar parcel from Ford.

Meanwhile, Ford himself had discovered that the Vogons had taken over the Guide, and created a strange new sequel. He jumped out of a window twice, lost a very expensive shoe, and then lost his ship to Arthur’s daughter after she threw a sharp stone at him. Basically, things weren’t going quite so well for Ford Prefect.

All the little ideas in this book are great – original, exciting, funny. Everything that makes the series so popular. None of these books have a straight-forward storyline, and that’s sort of what makes them so unique. Of course, the sequels are rarely as good as the first book, and this is no exception. However, I do believe this book has more of an interesting, easy-to-read vibe going on than the previous one.

Again, there’s no romance in this (yay!) and absolutely everything is completely unexpected. The Vogons have returned, but we still haven’t had any sign of Zaphod, or even Marvin. Kind of disappointing, as Zaphod was a real fantastic character! For most of the book, I’d give 3.5 stars, but in the end it managed to work it’s way to 4.


Book Review: Life, the Universe and Everything


Life, The Universe and Everything (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #3) by Douglas Adams – Paperback, 199 pages – Published September 1st 2009 by Pan Books

I loved the first two books in the Hitchhiker series, and had heard that the rest aren’t quite as good. I’m afraid I have to agree on that with this book, though it isn’t a bad book by any means.

In this exciting novel from Douglas Adams, we find Arthur Dent where we left him – on prehistoric Earth. Having been separated for a few years, Arthur and Ford Prefect are reunited, in time to find a sofa appear before them. Something to do with eddies in the space-time continuum… The sofa takes the pair back to modern day Earth, on the Lord’s Cricket Ground to be precise. They witness the Ashes being stolen, and Slartibartfast teaches them about how the people of Krikket decided to destroy the universe on the discovery of there being one. The whole planet was encased in a Slo-Time envelope, except for one battle ship. This ship, armed with deadly robots, seeks the key to unlock the planet – part of which happens to be the Ashes.

Ford, Arthur and Slartibartfast take it upon themselves to save the Universe. But Arthur finds himself separated from the others, alone in a dark chamber. It turns out that he had been brought there by Agrajag, the soul of several beings he happened to have killed over the years. Most creatures aren’t aware of having been reincarnated, but Agrajag remembers each time he had been killed by Dent.

While escaping Agrajag, Arthur accidentally learns the art of flying – and is hit by a flying party. Ford and Slartibartfast – as well as Trillian with Thor the Thunder God – happen to be there. The robots soon arrive and steal another part of the key before the others get a chance to take it. Eventually, the robots gather the entire key, and Trillian figures out who has been manipulating the Krikkiters into destroying the Universe the whole time.

I’m a huge fan of this series, but I didn’t like this book quite as much. The random rambles seem to be just that at times, and although they are important to the plot in some way, I did tend to feel a little lost sometimes. And there are barely any new characters – certainly no main ones. While the original characters are all great, they just aren’t quite the same as they were.

It’s still eccentric, it still has subtle hints of humour, and it all fits together in a peculiarly clever way, so I have to give this book 4 stars.