I was kind of scared to read this book. Actually, I was very scared, but I was also very excited--and then I read the forward. It was wonderful. Eoin...moreI was kind of scared to read this book. Actually, I was very scared, but I was also very excited--and then I read the forward. It was wonderful. Eoin Colfer knows he's not Douglas Adams, and he knows that his contribution to the trilogy won't be the same or mean the same thing to the readers. But he also clearly knows and appreciates his Hitchhiker's Guide, and he's funny.
So I read the book. It was nice right away, because the characters weren't all dead. Then the story took off on its own interesting and funny direction, and I was happy to go along in whatever really cool ship they could hitch a ride on. It clearly wasn't written by Douglas Adams, but it's also definitely part of the Hitchhiker's Guide--much more so than Terry Jones' Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic, which felt like it took place in another universe (in which they use "translation blisters" instead of babblefish).
I was afraid Colfer wouldn't include the random, hilarious, interesting, and sometimes thought-provoking tangents that Douglas Adams used to fill a lot of the pages of the previous books in the trilogy, but they were in there, diverting us from the main story as always. There were a lot of things in there from the previous books that I'd worried wouldn't make it in, or things that I'd kind of forgotten about (there was another Vogon poem, although I actually don't think it was half bad). There were also plenty of new things, some of which I thought were great, some of which...well, let's just say I got tired of the word "buffa."
Still, bringing in new stuff is not only not bad, it's necessary. Books that come after other books have to add new stuff so that they won't be the same as the first books. I'm sure had Douglas Adams written another Hitchhiker's book, there would be new stuff in it. And the new things and characters in this book were good new things and good new characters. Plus, the old things and old characters were done well. Unfortunately, there was very little that was actually about Arthur. My guess is that Colfer felt more comfortable making more minor characters his own (including fleshing out the backstories--not to mention current stories--and personalities of some people only mentioned briefly in the first five books) than trying to take on Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. And hey, apart from what I assume were his fjords, where was Slartibartfast? And where was any mention of Marvin? Just curious.
But I don't want to end on a complaining note. Other characters like Agrajag did get nice mentions. So did Douglas Adams himself--or at least an episode in his life, which I thought was a really nice touch, and actually made me a little misty, before I kept reading and got to something funny. Also, interestingly, this was the second book I read today (well, the first one I just finished today, this one I read completely)--AS WELL AS the second book I've ever read--that included the word "philately." I'm not sure what that signifies, if anything, but I wanted to mention it.
Mostly Harmless is the fifth book of the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy, and as such, it's worth reading. However, in many ways I think that its title is...moreMostly Harmless is the fifth book of the Hitchhiker's Guide trilogy, and as such, it's worth reading. However, in many ways I think that its title is a little too apt. This is my least favourite Hitchhiker book, because it left me slightly depressed by both its storyline and its position as the final book of the trilogy. Even so, it has sequences that are too funny to be missed, most notably the story of (and our hero Arthur's confusion about) the King. Furthermore, it answers questions and clarifies some issues, and it also provides some closure for the characters that readers of the books have come to care about.(less)
The beginning of this book has a passage that is without a doubt the funniest thing that I have ever read, and will probably never be equaled. I've re...moreThe beginning of this book has a passage that is without a doubt the funniest thing that I have ever read, and will probably never be equaled. I've read it so many times that I can recite it nearly word-for-word, and yet I still have trouble getting the words out because I'm laughing so hard. This isn't my favourite of the trilogy, but, as they all are, it is eminently and endlessly readable.(less)