Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Review

It’s pretty rare that I read a book I’d describe as a total miss. That’s because I usually don’t even begin reading books I don’t think I’ll enjoy. Unfortunately, I came across a dud in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

I read it first because two of my daughters had read and enjoyed it. Also, I’d heard about it for years and wondered what it was about. Turns out — I’m still not totally sure! But, I persevered and did read the whole thing. It was just over 200 pages, and small pages at that.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

I guess you could call the book science fiction. It starts out on Earth — but not for long. Earth is destroyed within the first few chapters. Totally destroyed! But the book goes on, with Earth’s lone survivor on a spaceship with other creatures. There are many galaxies out there, and the spaceship travels through many of them.

I have to say that a lot of the time I didn’t really grasp what was going on with this book. There were bits of dry humor thrown in here and there:

“‘You know,’ said Arthur, ‘it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space, that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.’

‘Why, what did she tell you?’

‘I don’t know, I didn’t listen.'”

That sort of thing.

Then there were some bits where I guess the author was trying to go for deep, existential stuff — a whale suddenly coming into existence for just moments before being destroyed, a bowl of flowers falling off of a table and ‘thinking’ “Oh no, not again.” “Many people have speculated that if we knew exactly why the bowl of petunias had thought that we would know a lot more about the nature of the Universe than we do now.”

Are you confused yet? If so, join me. If not, I think your literary analysis skills are superior to mine. I told daughter #3 that if she enjoyed this one, she ought to give “Ulysses” a try — that was the other big classic that I tried and totally gave up on (in my defense, it was hundreds of pages, and I wasn’t willing to stick with it for that long).

So now I’m actually really curious to see how many of you have actually read this book. If so, what did you think? Please enlighten me as to what I’m missing that makes it so popular.


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9 thoughts on “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Review

  1. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have stuck through it to the end. I can’t imagine, from what you’ve described, why anyone would recommend that high school students read this. It seems like a total waste of time, to me.

  2. I listened to it. My friends almost all adore it. I should have liked it given its dry British humor. I “got” a lot of it. But it just felt smug to me. Like something the cool junior high teacher would assign. Meh is my verdict.

  3. My oldest son dearly loved it, but I never got around to reading it. Now you have me more curious. Maybe I’ll check into it one day, and then see if my son remembers what he liked about it. I can’t remember how old he was when he read it – high school I think.

  4. This is so funny. I’ve never read it. I was an English major. And a teacher. And still….never read it! I’ve gotten very particular with my book choices since becoming a mom — only a little time to read, so read what I love. I may not try this. But maybe my daughter will like it. 🙂

  5. I did read this, and I remember thinking it was pretty funny. I kind of ignored any barbed philosophy, and I didn’t really enjoy the following books, but my sons love them all, and find them very humorous. I wish I could remember details, but it’s been too long. Perhaps I will read it again and then I can converse more intelligently about it.

  6. Hmm…I’ve had this one on my list for awhile, but now I’m wondering if I should scratch it off. It does sound confusing and not my cup of tea either. If I do start it, I’ll know not to linger too long if it’s not working for me. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Maybe it only resonates with teenagers. I read it as a teen (or maybe when I was in college?) and enjoyed it quite a bit. I felt that its humor had a Monty-Python feel to it – lots of utter ridiculousness. I think I mentioned it to my dad and he said that it was existentialist through and through, but I wasn’t paying attention to the philosophy, just the silliness (the lab rats who have been conducting science experiments on humans for years, the answer to the question of “life, the universe, and everything” which makes absolutely no sense since we don’t know the question, etc.)

  8. I guess I’m really out of the loop since I have never heard of this book until reading your review. It doesn’t sound like something I’d want to spend time on. “So many books — so little time!”

  9. Funny…I feel like it’s on everyone’s TBR list, but no one-including myself- has read it! Perhaps best left to the YA crowd?

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