Nathan reviews The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Illustrated Edition) by Douglas Adams, Del Rey – Random House Publishing Group, 2007, 208 pages

Whenever I consider The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, a few words quickly come to mind: silly, absurd, surprising, and fun. The  title should one be in the market for a humorous and rich science-fiction novel, then the first book of the Hitchhiker’s trilogy (which oddly has five books–I know, Adams did his own thing) may be a great fit. With Ford Prefect’s absurd behavior and logic, Arthur Dent’s simple human understanding of existence, and Adams’ wonderfully written and creative backgrounds on even minor details of the novel, anyone can enjoy this book on some level.

The witty, dry humor of Adams’ prose always gets me, whether in the form of a subtle chuckle or a legitimate, audible laugh. (I would say that this humor and overall tone, for once, is something that did translate well into the 2005 film version of the novel thanks to Adams being able to co-write the screenplay, though he died before production began.) The phrases “meaningless coincidence” and “staggering coincidence” are always jockeying for dominance or are in peculiar harmony, and one can never tell which will be strangely applicable throughout each moment of the novel. As odd as this may seem, it will surely make more sense upon reading this beautiful intergalactic-juxtaposition of a novel. Somehow, it all comes together with hilarious results as characters come together from all parts of this galaxy (and others) to more or less literally run into one another.

Adams plays up different tropes and ideas of science-fiction and adds an almost Mel Brooks-like spin to them, satirizing and just having fun with the aspects of the genre. Of course, there is also the addition of dry British wit to the mix as well. Overall, it is hard to not enjoy this work of fiction. Nothing is too complex, and it all just feels relatively smooth. One cannot help but wonder what events await on the coming pages. If anything, random sorts of humor and jokes just for the sake of the occasional laugh can be expected. (One personal favorite has to do with a bowl of petunias and a “very surprised-looking whale.” You’ll see what I mean.)