And Another Thing: Book review
By tvnz.co.nz's Darren Bevan
The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams is considered one of the seminal books within the sci fi genre.
The death of author Douglas Adams came as a huge shock to those who'd loved the adventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Marvin the Paranoid Android and the world that had been created some 30 years ago.
Not only because an original talent had gone so early, but because there would be no more of his humour in the HitchHikers series.
Granted, it was hard to surpass the original trilogy; even when Adams himself wrote the fourth and fifth books of the trilogy (I know, before you say anything - that's the kind of humour he had) it's clear he hadn't recaptured the magic.
So, when another author stepped in to the fray to write the sixth book, Eoin Colfer (he of the Artemis Fowl books) there was outrage among many fans that someone would even dare to try.
I have to admit to having a little trepidation as I sat down to read And Another Thing ... would it be as good as the series so far? Would it leave me thinking Colfer was a more than adequate author to string something as wonderful as the Hitch Hiker's together?
The answer is kind of - yes, yes, I know it's not Douglas Adams but Colfer has managed to stick to the nonsensical approach pioneered by Adams. At the end of the fifth book, all of the gang were dead which some may say would signal the ultimate end - but Colfer, using that all too familiar device of parallel worlds, manages to bring them back.
From there, Arthur Dent finds himself back on Earth - along with the rest of the crew (but sadly no Marvin the Paranoid Android) - and with a larger part for an immortal, called Boweric Wowbagger whose role in Hitch Hiker's life and the Universe is to insult everyone. It's Wowbagger, who has the major part of the story, as he falls in love with Trillian and fights with the Norse god, Thor. There's not a strong story that runs through the book - it's a series of various adventures, with the Hitch Hiker's (non)sense of narrative.
If you're not a fan of the Hitch Hiker's, and based on that last paragraph alone, this book may be a difficult sell - you will appreciate it more if you're a frood who knows where their towel is.
That said, Colfer's done a fair job of creating another novel - and I have to admit, as he mentions various moments from the previous books, I couldn't help falling into reminiscing about the influence and humour of the earlier books in the original trilogy. That's not to detract from what Eoin Colfer's done - it's just that, as is inevitable, if you're a fan, you're bound to compare and contrast. Because Douglas Adams was so revered, and so celebrated for the trilogy, it's inevitable his lack of presence will be felt.
And Another Thing isn't a bad entry into the
Hitch Hiker's genre - it recaptures some of the humanity and
futility of life which Adams himself wonderfully wrote; and there
are some amusing moments courtesy of the Guide's interjections and
musings. Perhaps wisely, the characters with the most advancement
of either content or character are the ones Adams left on the
sideline - that way, it won't feel like the Arthur, Ford and Zaphod
we knew and loved hadn't been tainted. However, I'm sorry to say I
couldn't help but miss some of the magic which set my imagination
alight when I first read the books.
Title: And Another Thing
Author: Eoin Colfer
Publisher: Penguin NZ