Arthur Dent is a regular guy suddenly thrust into the cosmos with the destruction of earth. His best friend, Ford Prefect (who turns out to be a hitchhiking alien and partial author of the famous encyclopedia of the universe, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), just succeeds in saving them. And then not quite saving them. And then they get saved some more. And then not saved. And that keeps happening.
I’m actually a little scared to talk about this book. It’s beloved. I can’t emphasize this enough, that folks worship these books. And I thought this first installment was good. Not the second coming of science fiction, but good. Even those feel like strong words when a book is as revered as this one is. And I’m saying I enjoyed it, yet it feels like if you didn’t fall down on your knees, then you missed something.
The humor is dry for the most part, delightfully absurd for the rest. The dry portion didn’t strike me as funny because it all felt so true, so I took most of that as insight rather than something to be laughed at. On the other hand, the absurdity did wonders for me, and I giggled madly at those moments. The book was balanced well between these, neither one or the other standing alone as the book’s fulcrum, making it feel part philosophy (in probably the most depressing way possible) and part comedy.
I think part of my problem lay with watching the movie first. That’s how I was initially exposed to this world, through the film. I enjoyed the film a great deal, and it made me want to read the books, which I’m finally getting to. But… it also meant I was incredibly prepared for everything that happened here. Nothing was a surprise. I knew what I was in for down to pretty much the last detail. I think the story loses something when there are no surprises. I need to do a review for the second book, and I think that one delighted me a bit more because I wasn’t so spoiled for it.
Overall, it’s a light, fun read. I was having a stressful time when I picked this up (intentionally wanting something that would lighten my load), and it’s good for that. I think most sci-fi fans can find something to giggle about here, and I think everyone should at least try it.