Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

What a great book. 10 years after I first read it, it's still just as funny and creative as ever.

If you haven't read it, I'll wait. Done? OK. It's a quick read at about 230 pages or so. The 'H2G2' has an interesting origin; it started out as a radio series and became a TV series and a book. It spawned 4 sequels, one short story, and a successful 2005 movie of the same name. It's likely the most beloved British book series outside of Harry Potter and/or Charles Dickens novels.

The book was adapted from the radio scripts, and in retrospect, it shows, in that has long scenes of dialogue, then connector chapters that catch up on the narration/story aspect, then long scenes of dialogue, and so on.

I used to think it was unfilmable, because about 50% of its charm is in the writing style. It's extremely clever and very creative and funny. It gets a little odd here and there, and it's definitely full-on sci-fi, complete with all manner of aliens, space adventures, and robots.

I say 'used to think' because they very successfully filmed the book in 2005, and kept in a very decent amount of the narration and the author's writing style. It also strongly improved on the story and added some additional scenes, settings, and characters that have the odd effect of expanding the narrative in a logical way. This causes it to have a much better emotional impact, deeper characters, and a more natural pace. It also has a better ending than the book. If you're familiar with the book, I really recommend the movie-they get everything right (especially the casting).

But I still love the book, and will likely keep going through the series after I read at least 5 or 6 of my books here at home that I need to get through. The thing I noticed this time around that I didn't at first is how much the author includes about evolution in it. It's the only knock I have against it, really. The author was a devoted Darwinist and an atheist and he spares few opportunities to talk up evolution or to 'good naturedly' knock religion a little bit. There's nothing malicious about it-the book is too fun and the tone far too light to get too worked up about it, but unfortunately in today's world, this is pretty much as mild as it gets when it comes to this kind of thing.

Content-rating would be somewhere between PG and PG-13. Almost no language but some slightly off-color remarks here and there. Very British kind of stuff, but if you're one of my brothers in law, you should put this book down and back away slowly.

1 comment:

Hillary said...

That's where Sam Rockwell became a legitimate actor. He was awesome in it.