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And Another Thing... by Eoin Colfer
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's review
Feb 02, 10

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bookshelves: scifi-fantasy
Read in February, 2010

And Another Thing... is billed as the sixth book of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series (a trilogy in four five parts), though it was not written by Douglas Adams but instead by Eoin Colfer. Now, perhaps I had my expectations a little high. After all, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Restaurant at the End of the Universe rank among my top-ten books of all time. Maybe even my top five. They are, in a word, exceptional.

Colfer is clearly a huge fan of the series. His references are spot-on, and no doubt his copies of The Hitchhiker's Guide books are just as well-thumbed and earmarked as my own. That said, they're extremely hard to duplicate. Even Douglas Adams himself seemed to fade a bit starting in book three of the series, where I suspect he was trying to replicate the writing style in the first two books and falling somewhat short of the mark. So if even Adams couldn't keep the trend going through five books, how much more difficult for a different writer to adopt it?

The true magic of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is that it walked a very fine line between plot and digression, between sense and nonsense. And Another Thing... fell just a little too far on the "digression/nonsense" side of that line. Colfer's asides are just a touch too prevalent and a smidge too flighty. His "Guide's Notes" seem included merely to throw in the names of made-up planets and peoples, rather than to further the tenuous strands of the plot. His references to the original books sometimes seem a bit strained.

There are nonetheless a few moments of brilliance. I particularly liked Colfer's characterization of Thor, and there were a few passages in there that might have been pulled straight from H2G2. It was an enjoyable read, if not something that I'll come back to again and again. (And not, alas, the bounty for my quote book like Hitchhiker's Guide.)

It's hard to compete with a classic, especially one whose writing style is as unique as Adams'. Colfer gave it his best shot, and I don't think anyone could do better. Good on him for the attempt, even if it didn't quite measure up to "top ten" status.
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