In this novel we follow Arthur Dent as he discovers his best friend, Ford, is an alien. He's begins his adventure as a hitchhiker with Ford just before Earth is destroyed to make way for an intergalactic by-pass. Ford happens to be researching and updating the titular, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which allows us readers to learn about this universe alongside of Arthur. Arthur and Ford then travel the galaxy with Trillion, another human, and Zaphod Beelbebrox, the President of the Galaxy and Ford's half-cousin. Along the way they try to create a second earth, encounter the most intelligent life form that inhabited Earth (hint: it's not humans...we actually rank third), and learn the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.
Now, I'm not always a fan of sci-fi. I do enjoy a good fantasy novel now and then, but it doesn't make up the majority of my reading. For me to really enjoy it, sci-fi has to be done well. Really well. I don't want to be able to pick apart its flaws. I have to be immersed in the world within the first few chapters. I have to want to experience this adventure myself, or have some kind of connection with the characters. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy hit that sweet spot of intrigue and mystery for my personal reading tastes.
You aren't going to be emotionally moved by this book, and that's okay. It doesn't call for that. In fact probably the biggest take away you'll glean from this book is "Don't panic!" which is probably a piece of advice we all need more often than we care to admit. An appreciation of British humor will also do you well in reading this book. Adams' comes up with lines that I wish I could quote left and right. Lines like, "
"In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move." or "The Guide says there is an art to flying . . . or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." or even "The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't." How could you not laugh out loud?
I think what really helped me enjoy this one was that I've seen (and loved) the movie adaptation with Mos Def, Martin Freeman, and Zooey Deschanel. Not everything aligned between the two, which made the book even more enjoyable because I didn't know what would be included in the book and what wouldn't. They are great companions and this is one of the few times I'll say I enjoyed the movie as much as reading the book. Bonus points if you listen to the audiobook because the lovely Stephen Fry narrates it. I'm giving myself some breathing room before I tackle the next one in the series, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, but I won't wait so long to start my next adventure as a fellow hitchhiker.
TL/DR: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a fantastically funny adventure around the universe, forcing readers to realize we aren't as clever as we think but in a comforting sort of way.
Rating: 5/5 stars
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