The much-anticipated sixth instalment in the Hitchhiker’s Guide series was published on the 30th anniversary of the publication of Douglas Adams’s first book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Eoin Colfer was asked to step in and write this final instalment to celebrate this anniversary, as Douglas Adams tragically passed away back in May 2001.
Prior to writing this, Colfer had only written books aimed at the young adult audience and this lack of experience in writing for adults comes across in the book, giving it a slightly simplified feel. Adams used to weave immensely complicated strings of storylines throughout a novel and Colfer tries to imitate this, although the way he portrays information is very different to Adams. Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian Astra appear to become the main characters, with Arthur Dent very much secondary. Characters seem at points, especially near the beginning, to be caricatures from Adams’s previous works rather than developed any further by Colfer and the inner monologues often used by Adams also are not used as a primary communicative tool in this novel. Therefore we lose the ability to identify fully with characters and understand their motivations for actions as we move through the book. Guide entries are generally too frequent, breaking the pace of the main text, and they seem to be incorporated instead of using the long winding descriptive passages Adams favoured.
At many points it feels like previous aspects of the series are revisited in order to try to keep it in line with earlier books in the series, whereas the true joy of Hitchhiker’s is that each storyline is unique, with new worlds and tertiary characters appearing throughout to develop the storylines and maintain interest. Colfer even seems to pull in aspects of the Dirk Gently series rather than have the confidence to create a new scenario himself.
As with Starship Titanic, which Terry Jones wrote based on a Douglas Adams computer game concept, the nagging feeling remains that Adams could have developed ideas so much further and ultimately have written the book so much better – although he probably would have needed to have been locked in a hotel room for three weeks until it was finished. It is nice to see the characters brought back to life, but ultimately returning to the existing five books is the only way to truly do this. Adams had suggested before his death that he might have written another instalment of the series, saying that he felt the ending to Mostly Harmless was unsatisfactory, but this addition does nothing for
If you rate this book without the expectation loaded on it by placing it as part of the Hitchhiker’s series, it is a reasonable read but sadly Colfer simply does not have the enormous talent that Adams had to create and develop these characters and the surreal world they exist within.
[isbn name=”And Another Thing…”]978-0718155148[/isbn]