And Another Thing… a review

So those that know me should be very well aware that I am a huge Douglas Adams fan, and alongside da Vinci and JDR, consider him a hero. The weekend that he died was one that I count as one of the most horrible in my life (for that and other reasons which coincided)

So I’m wary about extensions to his work.

The movie I enjoyed. I thought it could be better, and some parts truly bothered me, but other parts gave me smiles. I accept it as a HHG movie, but somehow it lacked a vibe.

So this week saw the release of the long-awaited 6th Hitch Hiker’s book, written by Eoin Colfer. I bought it, I have read it. This is my review.

So the first thing I’m going to do is write the positive, but then I’m editing it out to the end of the review, because ultimately, it’s not a book that should be leaving a sour taste in your mouth in reviews.

Mostly spoilerfree review follows

First, the negative (minor spoilers)

This isn’t the novel Douglas would have written, right? Well,  yes, and no. In the improbabilities that span the vast multidimensional space of the infinite universe, I’m sure that a Douglas Adams would have written this novel as his 6th after the 5 we know. But it’s unlikely…

Colfer’s Guide feels like he’s taken some of Douglas’ writing formulas, and used them again and again. Almost, but exactly not quite overdoing it, as it were. This was especially evident earlier on, His plot isn’t as rich as we had come to expect from later Adams work. And his characters have distinct aura of ‘loser’ about them. Dent is no longer the everyday man, he has become a worst-at-everything-since-childhood character, and other characters seem to fall under the knife of an author who wants them to be poorer versions of themselves than my own imagination had previously made them out to be.

Adams’ writing always had a very subtle touch of PG humour, whilst Colfer more regularly  seems to make them, or at least allude to dirty jokes in a not-quite Adamsian way. A subtle extra hint of crudeness somehow. Anyway… it’s just not quite what Adams would have written.

The Positive (spoiler free)

So Douglas’ books, especially the Hiker books, have a certain pace, a certain rhythm. They have a certain style, a certain flair. Improbable as it is, and dispite the negatives, Colfer has, by and large, nailed it.

There were parts of the book that I laughed out loud at. Parts that I nodded with big smiles at. Parts that I reflected to myself with a ‘yes, that gives me pause for thought, in a good way’. And most tellingly, and this is the highest praise I can give, parts that I totally forgot I was reading a non-Adams’ Guide story. On balance, it felt natural.

Frankly, if they announced tomorrow that Eoin is writing a seventh, then I’ll look forward to it with the same mixture of eagerness, caution and anticipation as I did for this one.

PS: Originally blogged to: Please consider leaving comments at the blog rather than facebook or other social media side this post may be propogated to. Thankyou :)

9 thoughts on “And Another Thing… a review

  1. pippa

    Good point about the characters. Colfer’s Zaphod seems like someone who’d think “10/10 for style but minus several million for good thinking” was a compliment.

    1. nemo Post author

      pippa: thanks for the comment. Yeah, though I guess Colfer did make the distinction between Zaphods ’smart’ vs ‘cool’ sides explicitly clear. (though I don’t hold with the implication that being smart is somehow not cool)

  2. Kaare

    Thanks for sharing. I risked the minor spoilers, even though I haven’t got hold of the book yet.
    I must admit that Colfer’s more dirty jokes and crude humour was my first real concern when I heard that Colfer would be writing the sixth Hitchhiker’s book. Have you read “Artemis Fowl”? If you have ,would you say that Colfer is using the same kind of humour in “Artemis Fowl” and “And Another Thing”, or is there a definite style difference?

    1. nemo Post author

      I actually finished Artemis Fowl only a few days before AAT… came out. I’d been procrastinating about reading it for ages. I did enjoy it too, and aim to track down the rest of the series :)

      I think there is a definite style difference between AF and AAT…, and between AAT… and Bop Ad’s HHG. AAT… feels like… it’s a blending of both styles in a way, with something new (though of course I’ve not read any OTHER Colfer novels to compare more)

      In terms of dirty jokes, it’s not like Colfer is describing a different world, just describing it differently. It was always implied that the Guide culture was very ‘sex, drugs, rock’n'roll’. Adams was perhaps more subtle about describing it though, leaving it more to the reader as to what those things actually meant :)

  3. Paryb

    Late to the party, but saw this review linked on Wiki. I enjoyed the book FWIW but I felt like some of the jokes were a little too “in your face” While I enjoyed the “god interviews” for instance, I felt like LOOK LOOK IT’S CTHULU NERDS LIKE LOVECRAFT YOU’LL LIKE THIS HAHA AHAHA. Same with the Bladerunner quote, while I love the quote, I mean, come on, it’s not exactly the most obscure of “in jokes”. Nice book anyway, and I miss Douglas.

  4. Pingback: Blog » Blog Archive » It’s life, Eoin, but not as we know it…

  5. Ugbug

    Thanks for the review Nemo, I haven’t read it yet as I’ve been waiting for the paperback.
    It annoys me that my preferred format (paperback) usually takes a year or more to be published after the hardcover version of a book, and annoys me even more when it’s only trade paperback that is available.
    I’ve been a little hesitant to read it simply because it isn’t Douglas Adams, but then again I am looking forward to see where Colfer takes the story.
    If only there were more Dirk Gently books, but I can’t imagine anyone doing them justice.

    1. nemo Post author

      It’s interesting to revisit my thoughts months later…

      I enjoyed it, and I think it’s good. But if I were to sit down and re-read the series tomorrow (as I do every few years), I might not both with AAT again… (but I might – that’s the thing. I KNOW I’d read the other five… :)

      Also, about thoughts of a seventh… that just recently came up on…
      …but to summarise myself – I think if another author tackles the HHG canon, they should write another sixth. Not because AAT was bad, but because multiple conflicting versions is part of the history of HHG stories. Because parallel universes is now part of HHG internal canon anyway. Because then each writer is appending to the original story of Douglas Adams, rather than appending to a story already removed… :)

      And from a fan perspective, I think multiple sixth books would be seen as tributes more than continuations, and I think that’s more fitting.

      Not to mention, it’s unexpected, different and unique. And I always like that in storytelling!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>