Reviews: And Another Thing


If you ever feel like reading this book, take all the previous Hitchhiker's books, cut the memorable parts out of them with scissors, put the cut-out parts in a blender, and then glue the pieces back together. The main problem this book has is that everything in it is either reused from the original books or not as good as the original books. The reason why I liked Douglas Adams' series was because everything was new. If anything from a previous book came back, Douglas Adams had something new to do with it. Eoin Colfer brings back bits of the original books over and over again, but doesn't do anything new with them. The series tries to imitate Douglas Adams' voice, but it feels forced and wrong. If I read this book without having read any of the other books, I would have quit reading it after a few pages. Now I wish I had quit reading it, because it ruined the entire series for me. Well, it ruined the entire series for me for a few days, until I reread all of Douglas Adams' books and tried to forget And Another Thing. I wish I could forget it.

Eoin Colfer seems to think that Ford Prefect is Zaphod. This really got on my nerves after a while, because I can't stand people acting out of character. Ford Prefect is my favorite character. He is NOT Zaphod. Oh, and Zaphod is written to be much more of an idiot than he was in the original books. The other characters are butchered too, but I will stop now so that I can hit my head against a brick wall until I forget that this book was ever written.

Your Mileage May Vary

In broad strokes, this book seems similar to all the other Hitchiker's Guide books, and the author should be praised for following the same sardonic humour and expansive wit that Douglas Adams was so known for. However, it isn't written by the Adams, and by about half-way through the book, you can't avoid this feature in the writing. There has obviously been a huge amount of effort to follow Adam's original vision and story-telling style, but there are enough discrepancies and differentiation from the original that it become noticeable, in much the same way that the copy of a famous work of art can't exactly replicate the author's minutiae detail and brush strokes no matter how hard they try. In essence: there's something gone missing, not necessarily in the story itself, but the way it was told, and honestly it was a struggle for me to finish this book with that obvious fact becoming more and more glaring with each passing page.

Now obviously, it shouldn't be expected for Colfer to replicate Douglas Adam's writing. That would be a ridiculous expectation, and it would make less than no sense, especially considering the penchant each writer has for their own signature, style and individual determination of the story itself. But when you're following this kind of series with what is essentially the finale, that excuse is scrutinised. This is not fan-fiction, this was published with the intent to finish what Adams started and... it struggled with it. In itself, this is not a bad book, and if I took it as completely separate from the series itself, I would call it very good and enjoyable, but it was created in the context of the series, and I don't think it quite fulfilled the demands made on it.

There tend to be two rather severe views on this book. One says that it was the perfect ending to this series, that it did all that was demanded of it and more and that no one can fault Colfer's continuation of Adam's work - and judging by the current page on tvtropes, that tends to be more the general consensus leaning among tropers. On the other hand, you have those who label the Ruined Forever stigmata with a branding iron, saying that it was much the same as a 5 year old tracing the Mona Lisa in crayon. What you think of this book is very much up to your own interpretation. For me, it was only ok, no more or less.

It's Good. Really.

When the sixth The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy book was first announced, to be written by Mr. Eoin Colfer, the fandom gathered their torches and pitchforks and proceeded to explode. To an enormous amount of readers, the fact that there would be a sequel to such a great and classic work, written by someone other than its great and classic author, was something akin to high blasphemy. Not to me. When I read the news, the author, and the title, I felt pretty good. The way I see it, more of something great is better than less of it, and though there was certainly a cause for concern, I had faith that they'd picked the right man for the job. The job itself I never had a problem with.

Now, after having finished it all the way through, I feel pretty confident in declaring And Another Thing a rousing success. Adams it isn't, that's for sure, but in saying that I'm referring to the style in which the book is written. This is a lot more structured than it used to be, with each plotline neatly tying up in the end and each of the Guide's asides marked for your convenience. If we're talking about quality, Adams it is. The book is endlessly inventive and just as funny as any of its predecessors (well, except for maybe the second one; you can't beat that), and most of the characters' personalities are written perfectly. The lone exception is Random, who became actively rude and vindictive, a stereotypical teenager, rather than a troubled and bipolar girl who nevertheless meant well. This one minor hiccup aside, when Arthur, Ford, Zaphod, Trillian, and even old Wowbagger enter the scene, their familiar charm shines through at once. You know it's them.

Colfer also introduces two new characters. Constant Mown, the free-spirited offspring of Vogon Jeltz, is quite a laugh to read about, but the second, a sleazy, millionaire cultist named Hillman Hunter, is a bit more of a drag. He'll make you laugh here and there, sure, and as a character he's not so bad. But altogether too much time is spent following his efforts to run a cheese-worshiping cult off his Magrathean-commissioned, human-inhabited planet. After the first couple dozen pages, you'll start to wonder where Arthur Dent went to.

Overall, a fitting conclusion to the planet's finest comedy sci-fi. Four stars.