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.
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