Thursday, May 09, 2013

Reader's Diary #999- Douglas Adams: The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy

A roommate from my university days was obsessed with Douglas Adams's Hitch-Hiker series. Of course, and though I didn't realize it at the time, that roommate was one of millions of Hitch-hikers fanatics. In the sci-fi world it seems to rank up there with Star Trek and Dr. Who.

So, I finally had to see for myself what the hype was all about. No doubt about it, The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy is a funny, witty, frenetic book. Typically these are things that I'd enjoy in any book. However, I just couldn't make it work for me. It may have been just the mood I was in while reading it, but I couldn't connect with the characters. It's not so much that they were one dimensional, but sometimes I felt that the jokes got in the way. Ever been around someone who's "always on"? The ones you think are funny at first but after awhile you start to wish they'd offer something serious. It's not a perfect analogy to The Hitch-Hikers Guide as Adams does offer brilliant satire of religion, politics, and economics just to name but a few academic subjects. But sometimes I felt that the characters offering up their observations were little more than mouthpieces of Adams doing an elaborate standup routine, an intelligent routine, but a routine nonetheless.

Still, I can respect anyone who loves the book. And I'm still glad I read, if for nothing else than understanding a bunch of pop culture references that previously went over my head. Had no idea, for instance, that Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" took its name from the Hitch-Hikers Guide. Or that Siri wasn't just being whimsically random by answering 42 when asked what the meaning of life is. I can't see myself pursuing the rest of the series, but completing this one book is at least enough to take it off my TBR list, and it certainly isn't the worse thing I've ever read.


Kate said...

This is one of the few books that I have started (20 years ago!) and never finished.

Sarah M said...

I'm firmly on the side of loving the book, and have to admit that I also loved the movie adaptation. It said quite true to the book.

John Mutford said...

Kate: My unfinished would be Tess of the D'Ubervilles.

Sarah: I haven't watched the movie. I wouldn't until I read it, but even with my lack of enthusiasm for the book, I'd still like to see it.