Customer Reviews: And Another Thing... (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
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on October 13, 2009
I've been reading Eoin Colfer's book 'And Another Thing' and I'm pleasantly surprised to discover that I happen to like it. That's a biggie, really unexpected, as I'm one of those people who can't accept the possibility that anyone could measure up to Douglas Adams in his own (reflection of this) universe.

Let's state the obvious, shall we? Eoin Colfer isn't Douglas Adams. If he'd tried to clone Douglas's work, this book wouldn't have floated. Eoin (I think I can call him that, having shaken his hand) hasn't tried to be Douglas Adams, but he has tried to satisfy Douglas's supporters by writing in a very similar style. It reads well without sounding like a cheesy attempt to mimick the original.

I don't want to be hyper-critical (oh, gwaaan, gwaaan), but these are notes on Douglas's style and what's remained the same or changed:

1. Douglas might have been writing about aliens, but he was really talking about us. The Vogons are human bureaucrats, planning officers, for example. Douglas criticised, but never attacked his targets too hard, never losing hearts and minds. Eoin has understood this and does it very well. From an Irish writer, just following the EU's capture of Ireland, this line is Douglas at his cutting best: 'If we win, then you will join our happy group; if you win, then we keep coming back until we win.'

2. Douglas was a script writer and he specialised in dialogue. In the first two books, the proportion of quotes is very high, compared to description. In a novel, the use of witty script makes it read like a fast television show. Eoin does use speech, clearly, but the proportion has moved, i.e. more toward description.

3. The first HHG book used footnotes from 'The Book' at regular intervals and readers loved them. As with Shakespeare, the prologue became a character in its own right. The second book used fewer notes from The Guide and then the rest of the series dropped them. If you ask the fans which books they prefer, you will generally find that they like the books in direct proportion to the number of Guide footnotes they include. Eoin has probably spotted this (or at least enjoys the footnotes) as he's dropped in lots of them. The difference is...

Douglas would write a footnote which was imaginative, surreal and then made a huge arching observation about the nature of the Universe, our perception of life itself or a cutting critique of human nature. He'd ask us to look at the thing from a new perspective, to open our eyes and shine a light in our minds, then he'd follow that with a silly twist at the end (the comedy pay-off). Eoin's footnotes are surreal, imaginative, they even use planet names, species and locations from the original books, but... the guru-like thinking, the great idea, the divine revelation isn't there. the footnote is funny, it's true, but Douglas had more insight into the human condition.

4. Imagination and escapism: Douglas wrote 'alternative world fiction', also called 'alternative reality' or 'what if?' fiction. He based his universe in science, never magic, and tried to find an engineering solution for each piece of alien strangeness. The only exception to the rule, as far as I can remember, was when his characters started flying (mind over physical laws). Eoin Colfer came to HHG as a magic writer (leprechauns etc). He has successfully made the transition to Douglas's way of thinking.

5. Douglas was a cynic and sometimes even depressive. His worst book was Mostly Harmless, in which he blows up the Earth, observes Marvin's death, kills all his characters, turns his back, shakes the blood off his hands and walks away feeling relieved. HHG followers generally didn't like Douglas's final HHG book. Eoin's advantage was that he's an upbeat writer and, as an ex-fan, his book couldn't possibly be as sickening to the loyal readers as Mostly Harmless. We didn't expect him to write something as good as the Hitch-Hiker's Guide, that's too much to ask, but there was hope he couldn't cock it all up (as they did in the film version by dropping all of the best lines). I'm delighted to report that Eoin has produced a book that is much closer to Douglas's best titles than Douglas's worst ones.

I expected 'And Another Thing' to be soul-less, mid range and uninspired, just another commercial fan-fiction vehicle for the characters. I expected it to stray from Douglas's rules of writing. I anticipated that Eoin might not know Adams' universe in any great detail or 'hear the music' in his lilting prose.

Those expectations have been confounded. The book rocks.

Adam Corres
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on October 24, 2009
I'm just going to get this all out on the table. Give this book a chance. It's good. Colfer was asked to do this book by Adam's widow because she wanted to introduce Adam's writing to a whole new generation of readers. Colfer is a successful authour. He could make a lot more money writing and publishing a children's book in his Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, Book 1) series. He wrote And Another Thing out of respect for Adams and as a favour to Adam's widow. Give the guy a break. Put aside the punter politics. And Another Thing is a great read. I'm thrilled that someone as funny and imaginative as Colfer took up the challenge. I hope that his audience will use this excuse to pick up Hitchikers and the tale will stay alive for another generation.

Adams did not want to write the last two books in the The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series but had to because of contractual obligations. But his true feelings of boredom with the series show in the last two novels. They are dark and forced. Characters die somewhat suddenly and with little explanation. Before Adams could get back into his characters and end the series in a way fans would enjoy, he died, suddenly, on a treadmill in California at the age of 49.

And Another Thing is well written and entertaining and leaves readers left high and dry by Adams sudden death somewhat satiated. Eoin Colfer is touring with this book. He recently visited the Denver Tattered Cover and his explanations and manner quelled even the staunchest of critics. If you remain a doubter, I recommend listening to him speak and then reading And Another Thing with an open mind and heart.
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VINE VOICEon October 19, 2009
The never ending trilogy.

A surprising choice to add to the famous Douglas Adams five part trilogy, the author being a children's/YA writer.

But in order to review this we need to go back in time to when Douglas Adams was to SF what Terry Pratchett was to become to Fantasy. Clever and inventive and a very nice guy. Somewhere at home I have the first three HitchHiker books all signed and I remember how down to earth and friendly Douglas Adams was, despite half the queue being in dressing gowns and holding towels. But those fans will all be about 50 today, so Eoin Colfer had to write to appeal to the nostalgia of that generation but also those younger fans who have discovered the HitchHikers Guide over the years. There is also the point that how will the humour of the late 70's translate 30 years later when having a hand held information provider is no longer science fiction?

Well, in my view, it was okay. It raised a smile now and then as Colfer does manage to replicate some of Adams' style. It was a nice reminder of how fresh and exciting the first few HHGTTG books were but I was not overly grabbed by the story and I did wonder what the point of this actually was. This doesn't really add anything to the five book trilogy (and accepting that the last original book was by far the weakest). I was surprised to find that Colfer was a reasonably safe pair of hands in this endeavour, even if one might question the endeavour itself. I was slightly worried that it might be me, what was so fresh 30 years ago has not dated specifically, but is was 'of a time' and this new addition seems strangely out of place.

So there are some nice touches, but I am not sure it was worth the effort or fuss.
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on December 1, 2014
I really wanted to like this - a satisfying and less downbeat ending to the hitchhiker books is certainly called for, since the original series ends extremely depressingly. And I don't think Adams intended to leave it like that.

Colfer occasionally, but not nearly often enough, captures some of the absurdity of the series, but never got the idea that the Hitchhiker's books (and in fact all of the late Douglas Adams' outstanding books) weren't so much science fiction, as a satire of literally everything, while loosely wearing a science fiction costume. This book fails to work on just about every level. In brief, avoid.
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on November 16, 2009
The quote from which Colfer pulls his title rather says it all: The storm had now definitely abated, and what thunder there was now grumbled over more distant hills, like a man saying "And another thing..." twenty minutes after admitting he's lost the argument.

And Another Thing... is the written embodiment of that quote: it's too little, too late. It neither accomplishes anything useful nor does it add anything other than an unsatisfying addendum to a long finished conversation. Ultimately, it's as disappointingly pointless and just plain self-indulgent as rehashing a dead and lost argument. It makes one rather wish he'd left it as it was.

While I do think Colfer caught the general flavor of Adams, that's unfortunately about as far as he was able to go. Worse yet, Colfer seems to have missed who these established characters are. None of the familiar leads seem to be anything but an unforgivably generalized impression of who their earlier incarnations were.

And while I was amused at times, I found myself more irritated than anything by how labored the humor was. Colfer will often mention something in dialogue/description, only to stop and explain with the excessively copious GUIDE NOTES why the reader should be amused by the vaguely wacky (Hey! Spacey name + absurd = comedy!) thing he's written. At one point he even calls attention to how disruptive this is by writing that a particular GUIDE NOTE needs to be short so as not to disrupt the flow. Too late.

Had Colfer written a book utilizing his own characters but set in the Hitchhiker's universe, perhaps it would have been a much more enjoyable experience. But this isn't the book he's written, and as a sequel to a well-loved series, it falls miles short of the mark. Next time, I'll know better and ignore the grumbling.
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on February 21, 2013
I entered the reading of this book with trepidation. I devoured the Hitchhiker trilogy/quintet as the books were released and I've shared the well-worn paperbacks with my kids as they've grown old enough to enjoy them. There will never be another Douglas Adams.

That said, I have loved Colfer's writing so far, too. Reading the Artemis series, The Airman, Benny & Omar, The Supernaturalist and even the Legend of Series to my boys was such a delight I've come to expect that every time I crack a cover on a book Colfer has written, I'm in for a treat.

This book is no exception. Colfer isn't Adams, but he absolutely nailed the feel of Adams' universe and characters and I was so pleased to see them back, given new life by a very, very talented author. Identical, no way. But the fabric of their characters is perfectly picked up and fashioned into a book that I hope would give Mr. Adams a chuckle.

Thank you, Mr. Colfer for a lovely sequel.
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on November 12, 2009
I had no idea this book was in the pipeline, and was shocked, not to mention wary, when my husband bought it this week. Recent additions to the H2G2 oeuvre, from Mostly Harmless through to the film, have been disasters. All these years after Douglas Adams' death, how good could someone else's attempt at a new Hitchhiker's book possibly be?

Reasonably good, it turns out. Eoin Colfer has produced a book that very nearly satisfies the longtime Hitchhiker's fan. I really didn't think that was possible, but somehow he managed it. The characters are recognizably themselves, and it's great to see them again. The story itself works, carrying the reader along with several related plot threads that tie together rather well. There are many semi-amusing references to familiar people and planets and creatures - too many, really, enough to skirt the edges of pastiche territory. But no matter. It may not be quite an Adams Universe (of which there are several), but it's close enough.

Best of all, And Another Thing... goes a long way toward redeeming the travesty that was Mostly Harmless, credibly rescuing our cast from Certain Death. Eoin Colfer's solution to their predicament affects Arthur, Trillian and Random in interesting and life-changing ways, far beyond the fact of their mere survival. Arthur gets a few moments of near-happiness, something the character surely deserves. Colfer also finds new things to do with Zaphod, particularly his business relationships and extra head. Minor characters Wowbagger and Thor make a triumphant, non-gratuitous return.

This will never be my favorite Hitchhiker's book. How could it be? But it's not my least favorite, either, and that's saying quite a bit. I am prepared to accept this as the real, canonical continuation of these character's stories, and by extension, finally make my peace with the ending of Mostly Harmless. All things considered, that makes And Another Thing... a real triumph.
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on October 7, 2011
And Another Thing impressed me quite a lot when I read it. When I finally decided to hitchhike a galaxy without Douglas adams in charge, I was very nervous. I am always very nervous to try a series that has been continued by another author, same with movie franchizes with multiple directors. (Just look at the inconsistency of the Harry Potter films). Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl books among others, somehow pulled it off and impressed me with this sixth HHGTG novel. I felt that it fit seamlessly with Adams' work and, although some may argue that that is not a good thing, I believe it is when continueing a series like this. This book contains all of the wackey randomness of the previous five and the only negative thing I can say about it is that it kind of wore me out. The entire series begins to strain the mind a bit near the end because of the incredible amount of ridiculous and funny information and plot twists coming at the reader. Colfer managed to take all of the randomness and continue it, but I think that maybe I am just done with the series. It is one of my favorite series of books of all time, but some things need to end. Colfer did a marvelous job, but an unnecessary one. He gave us more Hitchhiker's Guide, but, to me, it didn't really add anything to the series that we hadn't already experienced. I hope that the Guide is left alone but I know that if a seventh book is written, I will be drawn to it by curiosity.
Again, I enjoyed it, I just get nervous when other authors continue the series of a deceased writer.
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on November 23, 2009
I had hoped that someone who could create Artemis Fowl could do a much better job than this. I don`t expect him to BE DNA, but I do expect him to remain true to the characters. Nobody really rings true to me, and Arthur, at times, is completely unknowable as the original everyman. Ford is now a joke, Tricia is eliminated, with only the weak Trillian from the 5th H2G2 present and barely that. It is a very disappointing book. I think Terry Pratchett would have been a much better choice. While DNA`s books weren`t exactly coherent, they did get you where you were going (as Dirk Gently would put it). And you had a good time along the way, and you could tell you were in the presence of real intelligence and wit. I don`t get that at all with this book.

As a sidenote, for those who really hated the tone and ending of Mostly Harmless, check out Phase 5 of the H2G2 radio series. They did a very nice job of rescuing the gang and made you feel good at the end. Thank goodness for dolphins!
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on June 24, 2011
I was very wary of this book when I first heard about it; how could a there be a Hitchhiker's book that was not written by Douglas Adams? When I found out that this book was written from some of his notes, I felt a little better, but I still had no desire to read it. After reading Mostly Harmless, desire to read this book decreased even more, as I found that book a fitting end to the Hitchhiker's series. Finally, I broke down and read the book, and I have to say, I was presently surprised. This book was better than I expected, and even though my feelings for Mostly Harmless remain the same, this book was a decent installment in the series. First of all, I think Eoin Colfer deserves credit for writing this book; it must have been daunting to take on Douglas Adams' work. Colfer does a very good job of blending an interesting story with the bizarre, quirky humor that defined the Hitchhiker's series. Of course, Eoin Colfer is no Douglas Adams; they both are very different authors with unique writing styles. Naturally, And Another Thing's pacing and flow is different that the previous books, but this does not ruin the book at all. The story is pretty solid, and the humor works well, especially the guide entries. The only thing that is lacking is the insight that was characteristic of Adams' work, but that is to be expected with a different writer. Overall, Eoin Colfer does a great job of telling a fun story that fits into the the Hitchhiker's universe. However, I must admit that I do not consider this book to be a part of the Hitchhiker's series. This has nothing to do with the author, but everything to do with my satisfaction with the ending in Mostly Harmless. I prefer to view this book as a What If? scenario; a story that could have happened, but did not. Still, this is a great story, and it is a must read for Hitchhiker's fans, especially those who were unhappy with Mostly Harmless.
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