Wednesday, June 24, 2015

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

Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams
Series: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1
Format: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

Still good?

Okay, this might not quite count as a nostalgia review because I pretty regularly reread this book and fall asleep to the audiobook. But I haven't actually read it properly in a few years and I wanted to reread the series before I read the book Eion Colfer wrote.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was one of my favorite books as a kid and a young adult. I also loved the text adventure game and the radio dramas. Basically, if it involved this series, I ate it up. The re-read wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I don't remember it being so short and I remember some of the passages differently for some reason. However, one thing was clear: this is still an amazing book.

So, if it's a favorite and I think it's amazing, you might be wondering... why didn't it get 5 stars? The answer is pretty simple. Even though I really love Douglas Adam's wit and find his books funny, compelling, and interesting, I often found that the plot was set aside for a good laugh. I feel like more could have been done to flesh this book out, to balance out humor and the writing itself.

Then again, though, Douglas Adams was under 30 when he wrote it, and writing humor is innately difficult. I think it's imminently quotable, but because of that doesn't have as much re-read value as I'd like. It certainly has re-read value, but when you remember most of the jokes, it's really more a re-read for fond memories.

Which isn't to say that's a problem. But I feel like a 5-star book should have more value, not less, on a second read-through. Or maybe I'm trying to quantify why this book has lost just a tiny bit of its charm for me.

I guess it's part of my issue with people who over-quote Monty Python. The central core of why Monty Python is funny is because they're doing comedy of the unexpected. Which means it's funnier at the time than it is later. Quoting it over and over kind of takes a bit of the fun out of it.

Douglas Adams strikes me in the same way. Much like I roll my eyes whenever anyone beats Holy Grail (not even one of their best works!) desperately to death, a billion references to 42 is going to really, really annoy me.

References to these kinds of works fare much better when you use them to build even larger humor. Simply taking them and using them in exactly the same way tarnishes the magic. Maybe that's why I've started to get a bit cynical about this series. Maybe I should re-read the Dirk Gently books. At least those aren't so saturated in popular culture.

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