Attending a nerd high school, I often heard praises of Douglas Adams in general, or his The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in particular.  It may surprise you, then (hang on to your pocket protectors, fellow geeks!) that I was 25 before I even touched this classic piece of science fiction.

“Trillian,” he said, “is this sort of thing going to happen every time we use the Improbability Drive?”
“Very probably, I’m afraid,” she said.

page 108

The plot, in general, follows Arthur and his alien friend Ford Prefect as they hitchhike across the galaxy. There is a very heavy dose of British humor, mostly from having the most improbable outcome to a situation.

Why is this on our bookshelf?

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is one of the most well-known and well-read science fiction books. I’m actually somewhat embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t read it before. If nothing else, it will be nice not to get the incredulous looks of amazement from fellow geeks suddenly doubting my geek cred.

Rating (3 stars)

To further throw my geek cred in jeopardy (if such a thing exists), I have to admit I just didn’t love Hitchhiker’s Guide as much as everyone else. It’s not that the book is bad – not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor was it anything like what I was expecting.

Don’t get me wrong – Douglas Adams is a great writer, and he created several dimensions of interesting characters. Not just that his characters are multi-dimensional, but some of them exist in multiple dimensions. His humor is, in many places, very good and unexpected. My wife tells me it’s unusual for me to laugh out loud while reading, or tell her a funny passage from a book, both of which I did while reading Hitchhiker’s Guide. The action sequences were even well written, but that’s where I have to start taking exception.

A brilliantly written battle scene should not end with the antagonist suddenly turning into a potted plant. Sure, it’s funny. It’s even quite funny and I LOL’d. But that’s not the way I like my books to go. I like things to happen in a logical order, with things happening for a reason. Another thing that bugged me was that we jumped from one time and place, to a completely different time and place, with no explanation.  Only several chapters later do we find out how the new scene ties into the rest of the book at all.

*disclaimer: This isn’t my kind of book.  Were it not for peer pressure, I probably wouldn’t have ever picked it up.