Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams

So the first book I tackled this year was The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide, which includes six stories: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; The Restaurant at the End of the Universe; Life, the Universe and Everything; So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish; Young Zaphod Plays It Safe; and, Mostly Harmless. Because of the nature of the book, and my feelings regarding the stories is so up and down, this won't be like one of my usual posts. It would be cruel to combine six reviews into one post.

(Source: Kelsey Darling)
I read the book at the great insistence of a dear friend, and I don't regret it. Douglas Adams has a humor that I can relate to and find hilarious. Very British, very dry. And as bizarre as it is, some of my most favorite jokes were those regarding insurance. I guess, bizarre isn't the right word. I work in insurance, so of course I would find more humor in it, but I just love when insurance jokes pop up and I hold onto them. Now, of course, I cannot locate the insurance joke that I found the most hilarious; it's not my book, so I made no marks. However, in Mostly Harmless, we find this little charm.

"It's a whole complicated insurance thing. They just bury the whole thing. Pretend it never happened. The insurance business is completely screwy now. You know they've reintroduced the death penalty for insurance company directors?"
"Really? said Arthur. "No, I didn't. For what offense?"
Trillian frowned.
"What do you mean, offense?"
"I see."  (p. 732)

I do promise to edit this if I find the other one; that one had me in stitches.

(Source: Giphy)
Two of my favorite characters were easily Ford Prefect and Marvin, the paranoid android. Ford reminds me of other favorite characters, like Sirius Black from Harry Potter and Carswell Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles. He just has that carefree, devil-may-care, bad boy attitude, but when you get down to it, is kinda a sweetheart. But you really have to dig to get there.

Marvin is just a riot. He has these snappy one liners, as well as a very unhealthy attitude about life that is quite easy to agree with, and it is almost impossible not to laugh at his negativity. 

(Source: Giphy)

"Pardon me for breathing, which I never so anyway so I don't know why I bother to say it, oh God, I'm so depressed. Here's another of those self-satisfied doors.
Life! Don't talk to me about life." (p. 66)

"Life," said Marvin dolefully, "loathe it or ignore it, you can't like it." (p. 95)

"The first ten million years were the worst," said Marvin, "and the second ten million years, they were the worst too. The third ten million years I didn't enjoy at all. After that I went into a bit of a decline." (p. 236)

"The latest one was a lullaby.
Marvin droned,

'Now the world has gone to bed,
Darkness won't engulf my head,
I can see by infrared,
How I hate the night.'

He paused to gather the artistic and emotional strength to tack the next verse.

'Now I lay me down to sleep,
Try to count electric sheep,
Sweet dream wishes you can keep,
How I hate the night.'" (pp. 444-445)

(Source: Giphy)
But really, the best part is the dry, sarcastic humor that makes even the most unbelievable things seem completely possible. Apparently, this entire time, instead of scientists observing mice, the mice have been observing us. You can also travel so far into the future, you're actually in the past. You can be older than your grandfather. Dolphins are even smarter than we believe them to be. And even though there are millions of alien species out there, only homo sapiens can have children with other homo sapiens

(Source: Google Image)
If I had to rate all of the books separately, it would probably look something like this:

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: 8/10
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: 7/10
  • Life, the Universe and Everything: 3/10
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: 2/10
  • Young Zaphod Plays it Safe: -/10 (it just felt unnecessary to me)
  • Mostly Harmless: 7/10
For me, Life and So Long were so all over the place; and not just physical place, but in time. I couldn't keep track of where they were and why they were there and even how they got there. I spent much of those stories with a headache trying to wrap my brain around everything. But, like my friend and I discussed, that is kinda how life, the universe, and everything does make a person feel when they are searching for the question to the answer of the ultimate question. 

I think the line that sums up the whole series is this line from the epilogue of So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish:

"There was a point to this story, but it has temporarily escaped the chronicler's mind." (p. 611)

There is too much of a point with this book, which I kind of really like. Sometimes it's nice to read something or watch something that doesn't have a point, or a huge hidden theme. You just get to sit back and enjoy.

Rating: 6/10
Genres: Science Fiction, Humor, Fantasy

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