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Mostly Harmless

(The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #5)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  109,943 ratings  ·  2,587 reviews
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Hardcover, 219 pages
Published 1992 by William Heinemann Ltd
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Caleb Peiffer For normal people. But this is Douglas Adams, my friend. The laws of mathematics are no more relevant to him than the laws of any other science.
Shalini It will be exactly the same as reading book 7 of Harry Potter after reading book 1, skipping books 2-6. If you don't see a problem with it, you'll hav…moreIt will be exactly the same as reading book 7 of Harry Potter after reading book 1, skipping books 2-6. If you don't see a problem with it, you'll have no problem here. :)(less)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  109,943 ratings  ·  2,587 reviews

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Start your review of Mostly Harmless (Hitchhiker's Guide, #5)
(mild spoilers ahead)

It's terribly amusing that the majority of reviewers have tossed this fifth part to the trilogy aside, banished it from their mental schemata of the series so as to acknowledge only that which ends well. I think it says a lot about the readership that they took in the entirety of the first four books without picking up on the melancholy and nihilistic subtext to Adams' writing. I mean, the first book ends with the discovery that the meaning of life is 42.... how much clearer
Jun 29, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Douglas Adams fans
Mostly Harmless was, for many people, a disappointing end to a fantastic series. Adams admitted that he was having a "bad year" when he wrote this book, and it shows: the usual humor and manic pacing are largely gone, replaced by long tracts about actual theoretical science (as opposed to the lunatic-inspired science that created, say, the starship Bistromath), and the tone overall is far darker and more depressive. There are still glimpses of Adams' comedic genius, but the book as a whole is a ...more
Henry Avila
The Milky Way Galaxy is in a state of confusion the dozen Universes, ( you didn't know there are more than one?) have collided into each other. Nothing is as it was, no wonder historians quit, what's the point, everything keeps on changing since history is so fluid. Tricia McMillan (Trillian , in another existence) is not happy, the British television anchor is back in England after an unsuccessful job interview, in New York City at ten times more money ! Dead tired from the overnight flight, sh ...more
Out of all the Hitchhiker's Gude to the Galaxy books, I think I must digress and say that 'Mostly Harmless' does not, in fact, refer to the Earth, but to itself.

The book is mostly harmless except when it isn't.

In fact, it isn't mostly harmless at all.

There are many humorous passages and lots of quirky zingers and a sensation of the penultimate plotless surreality of life, the universe, and everything, but like LIFE, itself, it just feels like an accumulation of STUFF THAT HAPPENS.

Trying to fin
Aug 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Encyclopedia Galactica, that venerable compendium, has a lot to say about the works of Douglas Adams. In particular, the first four books of his 'Hitchhiker's' series have over 7 million words dedicated to them. This includes synopses, critical analyses, research projects, philosophical treatises, and Babel-fish fan-fiction.

But the fifth book in the series has not enjoyed this level of attention. Until recently, the Galactica article regarding this novel comprised a single word; 'pointless
Evan Leach
The fifth and final installment in the Hitchhiker “trilogy” is generally regarded as the weakest in the series (it’s the lowest rated on this site, for example). The story is focused on Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. Poor Arthur, who finally found happiness at the end of book four, has the love of his life whisked away from him senselessly and is back to wandering the galaxy alone. He finally settles down to a life that many would find mind-numbingly dull but that suits Arthur just fine. Just as ...more
Randal: Which did you like better? Jedi or The Empire Strikes Back?

Dante: Empire.

Randal: Blasphemy!

Dante: Empire had the better ending. I mean, Luke gets his hand cut off, finds out Vader's his father, Han gets frozen and taken away by Boba Fett. It ends on such a down note. I mean, that's what life is, a series of down endings. All Jedi had was a bunch of Muppets.
Maricarmen Estrada M
Brilliant! I don’t know if I was just into the right mood or what, but this last book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide series made me laugh so much. It was hilarious!
The ending was perhaps too abrupt for me, and I’m still not sure if I liked it or not, so I was about to give 4 stars. But all the funny dialogues and situations throughout the book made definitely the 5 stars worth.
I’m sure I will reread the whole series sometime, they just put me in such a good mood. I love the so British, witty humor
Nathan Mathews
Feb 08, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Blechh! Worst. Ending. Ever! I've heard that Douglas Adams wrote this book during a bad time in his life (hey, we all have 'em), but this book more or less stinks. I have chosen to forget that this book was ever written, and that the series ended on a definite high note with "So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish". Those of you who have not had your minds poisoned with this bit of tripe would do well to skip it altogether.
Hitchhiker's, volume 5.

There are some good lines in this, but I can't help feeling it would have been better if Adams had left it unwritten, or at least unpublished. It is very disjointed, with Ford, Arthur and Trillian mostly in separate stories.

It starts in what would be a parallel universe - if such things existed, which they don't, because "it makes as much sense as the sea being parallel".

"If there was one thing life had taught her it was that there are times when you do not go back for y
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: diehard Hitchhikers
Sadly, the five-part Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy” ends not with a bang, but a whimper. With four storylines — displaced earthman Arthur Dent, reckless Hitchhiker’s Guide correspondent Ford Prefect; Trillian, the earth woman once named Tricia McMillan who dumped Arthur at a party to go into space with Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Tricia McMillan in a parallel universe where she stayed on earth — Mostly Harmless reads like a frenzied ride on the bumper cars, with storylines beginning and st ...more
Marnie  (Enchanted Bibliophile)
“Let the past hold on to itself and let the present move forward into the future.”

This was not the ending I was hoping for.
But since we have parallel universes; is this truly the end?

I finally read them all! I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy when I was younger but never read more than the first book.

I enjoy the humor and sarcasm and the unexpectedly outrages things that can happen quite out of the blue. The wacky relationship between Arthur and Ford is also one of the reasons that ke
Lucy Banks
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Douglas Adams has always had such a massive influence on my writing. I don’t think there’s any other author out there who does madcap, irreverent and downright silly as well as he does.

This book, the fifth in the series, continues the craziness of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and Trillion, but with the usual unexpected twists and turns, ranging from random daughters (literally called Random) to multi-universes and holy sandwich makers. Blissfully bonkers stuff.
J.G. Keely
The universe is a joke.

Even before I was shown the meaning of life in a dream at 17 (then promptly forgot it because I thought I smelled pancakes), I knew this to be true--and yet, I have always felt a need to search for the truth, that nebulous, ill-treated creature. Adams has always been, to me, to be a welcome companion in that journey.

Between the search for meaning and the recognition that it's all a joke in poor taste lies Douglas Adams, and, luckily for us, he doesn't seem to mind if you
Jammin Jenny
I love this series and the intrepid Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, and Trillian. Arthur finds himself on a planet called Now What (found by settlers that didn't know what to do) in a city called Oh Well. Douglas Adams wit is so good.
May 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Arthur goes space hermit.

Arthur Dent has been misplaced both in time and space. Now, he also gets displaced in an alternate universe somehow. And that's NOT the weirdest part here. Sadly, the group split up generally. Thus, we also follow Trillian's journalistic career, Ford's attempt at surviving the HHGs corporate structures and Arthur's stint as the sandwich maker - until he suddenly meets his daughter.

"Mostly Harmless" is the the HHG's definition/description of humans. Which is a weird thing
Feb 01, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ha-ha-humour
2005 will always be the year in which, personally I recognised that Douglas Adams was not only not my cup of tea, he wasn't my digestive biscuit, sugar lump or afternoon nap. His infantile rudimentary mid 20th century humour just doesn't work for me on any level... I have no doubt he strikes a chord with many readers around the world, but alas not I.
My one good deed, is that I stuck with the series and gave it a chance to melt my cold dark heart.. which it obviously didn't. 3 out of 12.
David Sarkies
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Is That It?
25 February 2017

I’m not really sure about this book. At first I was going to suggest that it didn’t have any point but then again this is a part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, which basically means that the books aren’t going to have a plot, or a point. Well, I guess the lack of a plot, and a point, is a point in and of itself because it simply goes to demonstrate the absurdity of existance, and that is that there really seems to be no point to this whole thing we call reality and
I can't highlight all the passages that I like in this book because I would end up highlighting the entire book. I enjoy slipping things in that are quotes from any of the Hitchhikker's guide books into conversations with people just because it makes me smile.
There is just so much wit to choose from.

A couple good ones from Mostly Harmless:

“A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

“Nothing travels
A Anderson
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me just say that 'Mostly Harmless' totally shocked me out of my chair.
I read the first four books and pretty much loved the humor, storytelling and not to mention the characters.
Some new characters are made in 'Mostly Harmless', and if I had to choose a favorite new character, it would be Random. Random as in her name IS LITERALLY RANDOM.
The irony of the whole story made me really, really excited. The whole tale goes in a roundabout of time and space and ends up where we started.
The ending w
Nov 08, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I'm a huge fan of Douglas Adams, and loved the first four books in the "trilogy". I was sorely disappointed by the fifth and final book in the series though. To me, it seemed like he was thinking "I'm sick of people whining for more Hitchhiker's books. I'll show them." The way the book ends is I understand Adams was going through a bad period when he wrote this book, and it shows. Don't bother with this one.
Mar 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now there's a neat ending, if I ever read one.

It was brilliant, however bleak. I could not find in here (in the fifth and last book of the "trilogy") quite so much of the beloved cuckoo sense of humor that made his books always so irresistible to me. However, I did appreciate the proper science fiction-y feeling to it, which was of course well done, having been produced by the magnificent imagination of Douglas Adams.

I miss you and I regret never having met you, Mr. Adams. I hope they have goo
Apr 19, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, fiction
Its years since I read the first four volumes of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and really enjoyed it. Perhaps my taste has changed or I can't get into the 'mood' but I really didn't enjoy this book. It just seemed to be a 'clever' messa round with words and the sort of adolescent fantasies of the universe that kids who were stoned and listening to Pink Floyd tended to come up with. Like a lot of things, it was more fun to have lived it than to read about it.

There were a couple of good sen
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
3.5 stars

While Mostly Harmless was still a fun and quirky wild ride, it doesn’t quite stand up to the level of the other books in the series.
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
For some reason this fifth volume is not included in most collection of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and I've only realised this recently.

As with most of Adams' book, I finished the book with the feeling that I only sort of know what was going on and wasn't really sure what the point of it was but I had so much fun along the way that I didn't really care. This edition sees a new guide being created which works across all the dimensions. Queue chaos. Arthur Dent spends a great deal of time b
Chris Greensmith
""Tricia! Where the haemorrhaging fuck are you?" I found this books slowly went downhill, dont get me wrong I liked them and loved the series as a whole but felt Douglas Adams never really meant to right more than one, maybe two of these books and just lost his was. It was wrapped up very neatly, well in my opinion, and I enjoyed it more than some entries but it just never had that effortless charm of the first...3🌟
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Douglas Adams finishes off the series with a flourish.
Kelsey Marie
Jan 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
I combined my review for all of the Hitchhiker books in to one post. It just felt easier that way.

You can read the review here:

*****Darling & Co.*****
I found this a bit lacking in enthusiasm. A bit too much hopelesness, being stuck, anger, confusion. I felt that Adams has run out of ideas and was repeating himself, with less humor. I was quite bored for parts of it. Overall it is worth finishing and still has some amusing moments.
Jovana Autumn
This was a shitshow. I have read that Adams admitted this was a bleak and bad book because he was going through some stuff in his personal life and it reflected on the last book.

It was a lazily constructed ending of a series in my opinion.

Yes, it is in a way absurd and in tone with the book – I certainly didn’t expect them to all have long and happy lives on their planets of birth with 3 children, a house, and a porch swing.
Yes, most answers to life’s questions in the book are ridiculous and ma
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Douglas Noël Adams was an English author, comic radio dramatist, and musician. He is best known as the author of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. Hitchhiker's began on radio, and developed into a "trilogy" of five books (which sold more than fifteen million copies during his lifetime) as well as a television series, a comic book series, a computer game, and a feature film that was ...more

Other books in the series

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (5 books)
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)
  • The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #2)
  • Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #3)
  • So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #4)

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