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Showing 1-10 of 2,727 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 5,175 reviews
on June 12, 2016
The Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy is one of the most famous pieces of science fiction in the English language. The story has been adapted into almost every medium, from radio to novels to tv to movies. And it's easy to see why it's so popular. This was one of the funniest books I've ever read.

Guide is primarily about the adventures of Arthur, an ordinary average guy forced to leave earth and go on a journey through the cosmos. He is joined by Ford Prefect, a writer for the Guide, Trillian, an astrophycist from Earth, Zaphod Beeblebrox, the President of the Galaxy, and Marvin, an extremely depressed robot. Over the course of five books, they encounter a wide array of aliens, planets, and towels.

The best element of these books is the humor. Adams is a master of satire, regularing stopping the plot to give a humorous take on everything he can think of. This book is almost impossible to put down it's so funny. The only downside is that he clearly had no idea where to go with the overall plot. After the second book, plots and characters would appear and disappear out of nowhere, and the ending fizzled out. That is the only reason I couldn't give this 5 stars.

This is one of the best pieces of YA literature out there. Have fun.
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on May 24, 2016
Returning to old favorites is always a chancy thing. Reading Douglas Adams again, nearly 30 years on is hardly a disappointment but I think my idea of what makes for funny reading has changed a bit. Still, I will never regret picking up one of the books in this series and trundling through. It is like returning to your childhood home -- a bit smaller and the yard isn't nearly as massive as when you mowed it as a child.The school is a lot closer too, though it seemed to take hours to reach on foot, when those feet were so tiny. Still, so many good memories surround t all.
I still carry a towel with me, where ever I go in the universe. My very first lesson from the "Hitchhiker's Guide."
No, really. My first.
I went to see Douglas Adams deliver a talk, shortly after the first book was published. Hadn't read it and didn't know who he was but the local public radio station made a big deal about his upcoming talk. Hundreds of kids whipped out towels and twirled them over their heads when Adams walked on stage. Had no idea at all what that was about. Learned quickly and loved his novels.
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on March 17, 2014
I don’t often let high expectations get the best of me. For whatever reason though I found myself going into The Ultimate Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy that contained five novels by Douglas Adams expecting to be very impressed. I’d heard people reference the series and had watched the movie adaptation of the first book and was rather curious about it.

Now admittedly, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I thought it was going to be a science fiction adventure filled with humor. I was kind of right, but I felt that I also was wrong in my expectations at the same time.

Let’s start with what I liked about the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series. The books are funny. I laughed out loud a number of times, particularly in the first three books. I felt his humor was very satirical and he lampoons a plethora of subjects. Sometimes it is very obvious what he is poking fun at, while at other times I wasn’t entirely sure.

Another positive of the series is that Adam’s has a pretty interesting imagination. From aliens that demolish planets for hyperspace bypasses to concepts like bistromathics, and even the titular guide itself. These make interesting canvases for Adam’s humor and you never quite know what you’ll be coming across next.

Now I think these two things are the strongest points of the series, but there are also a number of weaknesses. The first is that the plot is somewhat lacking. I mean there are goals that are put forth in the books, but they are often never resolved at least in any positive way. Typically there a lot of random twists and turns that leave you spinning after awhile. The humor involved in these often helps, but the strength of these books is in the humor not necessarily the plot.

Second, I found the characters rather unlikable. Maybe they were supposed to be that way, but I really found it hard to relate to any of the characters in the book. Arthur was probably the one I was most able to relate to, but even then he wasn’t particularly likable. The other characters are either jerks or just fairly shallow and really don’t help connect you to the already weak plot.

The next weakness is that the quality of the books are uneven. The first three books in the series are the best. I enjoyed the fourth one, but felt that it was much slower than the other books. The fifth well, it just felt like a mess and that Adams was really tired of the series and was trying to make everyone in the book as miserable as possible.

I’d also say that while humor is a major strong point of the series, sometimes it feels as though it’s trying to lean on it too much. That everything feels like some setup for a sarcastic, satirical turn later. Maybe I just felt that way due to reading all five books back to back.

Now, it may sound like I didn’t like the books. I did like them, just not as much as I thought I would going into them. I was expecting a bit more plot, but I felt that the series delivered on the type of humor I was expecting.

So I was a bit disappointed by these books, but they were an interesting read and I’m glad I went through this series. Just be prepared for a threadbare plot, lots of randomness, and a good amount of sarcastic humor. If you’re expecting that, then maybe you’d be prepared for what you find, at least more prepared than I was.
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on August 15, 2016
One of the best books of the past century, and easily one of my absolute favorites. Buy it immediately and plan to read it for a month straight, then reread it! Adams' humor and wit is perfectly channeled into an amazing series of stories, from the misadventures of Arthur Dent to the very creation of humanity - the HHGTTG is a book that will literally change the way you think about the meaning of life, the universe, and everything.This is one of the best editions I've ever seen, too - very nicely bound and professional-looking with gilt pages and a bookmark, not to mention ALL the unannotated books from the main HHGTTG cannon! I bought this edition in 2006 and I'm still rereading it and lending it out to friends.
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on May 17, 2016
Being a young Doctor Who fan, it is perhaps no surprise that I also gravitated towards other BBC Related science fiction. After all, Douglas Adams had even worked on the show as a script editor and he wrote the mysterious never-aired Shada episode. It has been a long time now though and I couldn’t tell you if I was first introduced to the BBC TV series for Hitchhikers or the books. I suspect it was the books because my parents already owned them before I was interested myself.

Recently, when deciding which book to read next I took a long look at the Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide. I knew for a fact that I hadn’t read the included short story ‘Young Zaphod plays it safe’ but I couldn’t tell you where I had stopped reading the novels. I dove in anyway.

‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ was all familiar territory. I knew the story well from both the BBC TV show as well as the more recent movie. The Restaurant at the End of the Universe got instantly more fuzzy. The second half of that book was included in the BBC TV Show but the first half was all new to me. I remembered reading it sure but couldn’t have told you anything about it. It involved a conspiracy that even as an adult I found a little convoluted but the end was quite satisfying.

The Life, the Universe, and Everything included some interesting commentary on war, a piece of technology that saw some extensive use in some of the earlier episodes of the new Doctor Who, and a whole lot of references to the game of Cricket. I know very little about Cricket except that it is supposed to be similar to baseball but longer and more boring. The series could have ended very comfortably here.

For those in search of a happy ending, So Long and Thanks for All the Fish is the way to go. It is by far the sexiest of the books and included some meta-commentary on Arthur Dent’s love life as to what could have happened in the previous three books. Despite the lurid nature of some of the scenes, they are all written up in typical Douglas Adam’s fashion. Part of that means that as a teenager I had very little understanding of the specifics of what was going on… or my teenage self put aside those memories so that my older self wouldn’t know what my younger self had been getting up to. And even my older self had to pay extra close attention.

Mostly Harmless is the last of the series and the most bleak. It goes from the up beat ending of the previous book and then just scraps all of that. If you’re looking for things to turn around then you’re going to be disappointed. I would compare this to the TV Show ‘How I met your Mother’. There were parts of that show that really annoyed me because I ‘knew’ where the show was going and they were wasting my time. But then the ending fit with the parts that had been annoying me. I can see how this would piss people off but in the end, I didn’t find it drastically out of place. Similarly, I’m ok with the sad end of the Hitchhiker’s series. It wasn’t great, but it fit.
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VINE VOICEon March 16, 2014
Although it's true this series (and thus, the book) gets weaker as it goes on, it's still a very solid series, even all these decades after I first discovered the series, back when the first book was the only one available.

The first two, of course, were instant classics the moment they were published. They're pretty much a must-read for the cultural literacy of any geek, even if -- somehow -- the books didn't appeal on their own.

My personal favorite remains the third, Life, the Universe and Everything. Adams was still enthusiastic about the series at that point, and since he was writing the book as a book, rather than adapting it from radio (although it borrows more than a few elements from Shada, an unpublished Doctor Who script of his), it has more structure than the earlier two books and more forward momentum.

The fourth and fifth books get a lot of hate nowadays, and while So Long, And Thanks for All the Fish is very parochial, concerning itself with Earth and a rather wishy washy parody of California and Los Angeles, Fenchurch is a charming and relevant addition to the series.

Young Zaphod Plays It Safe doesn't really work this far removed from the Ronald Reagan era, and even at the time, was odd and very slight.

And the we come to Mostly Harmless. Adams was burned out, and Arthur Dent is too. Despite that, most of the hate for the book seems to revolve around the last two pages, which seemingly slam the door shut on the series, as though the cast hadn't escaped seemingly certain death time and time again. (In fact, at the time of his untimely death, Adams was working on a new Hitchhikers book, converting the unsuccessful start of a third Dirk Gently book.)

Up until that point, though, Mostly Harmless is vintage H2G2, with the addition of Random, multiple Tricias McMillan, the Perfectly Normal Beasts and a very prescient riff on the corporatization of the mass media. (As someone who's worked in the media all his theoretically adult life, it's amazing how right Adams got things still more than a decade away in the future.)

This omnibus edition is pretty much a no-brainier for any science fiction fan and it'd be worth picking up for any of Terry Pratchett's many fans as well. Adams isn't quite the writer Pratchett is -- and certainly he was much, much slower -- but the two come from a similar place of warmth and deep bemusement in the human (especially British human) condition.

If you've read this far, you can safely assume this is a must-read.
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on January 2, 2016
Either one would put the book down in first few pages, or would be very engaged and continue page after page.

The story is intricate, and beautifully woven, involving inter/ intra galactic worlds, employing science and of course probability :D ( you'll understand why I put that imoji while reading the book)

This sci-fi book takes some of the major metaphysics questions (or at times put some, if deeply thought, in its own way) - pertaining to cosmology, universe, epistemology in a humour, which is imaginative, innovative, and illuminating on the subject.

Right from addressing philosophical questions to attending idiosyncrasies of each character to the description of each one of them - in books lingua - is humorous, very humorous, really humorous, humorously humorous.

Apart from reviewed facts, some not so reviewed facts (according to the book) that comes to ones astonishment or curiosity:

1. Mind it we earthmen are the third most intelligent beings on Earth (and not the most, and that too only on Earth). And universe also has some hyper intelligent beings, who we on Earth assume to be guinea pigs for our lab experiments.

2. You might have had new improved earth with Africa having glaciers with elegantly sculpted contours, soaring pinnacles of ice, deep majestic ravines if by the stroke of destiny Earthman Arthur Dent died in the earth's reduction to infinite fragments, then drifting around in an empty space.

Atlast I think we on Earth also have people trained in Vogonian singing/ poetry (no offence) :D If you don't know about it, just Google "Vogon Poetry"
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on August 3, 2015
This is another one of those books that gets recommended a lot on forums I frequent. A not-too-old classic that got turned into a movie, I finally decided to give it a shot because the rumored humor aspect to it all.

And I got to say, at times, this book was damned clever and funny.

It was funny in a subverting tropes kind of way. Only, instead of subverting tropes about genre fiction, it instead subverted the very tropes of life and existence in general, poking fun at a lot of the things most people take too seriously and doing a fine job at it. There were even especially unique ideas that were placed in the book, such as The Heart of Gold, a ship that travels through space by manipulating the odds of things occurring. Truly, if I hadn't seen the movie already, I would have been 100% lost as to what, where, or how the book would turn at every page. I've never read a story less predictable than this one!

That said, this book was short and in its effort to pursue the humor and crazy twists and turns, a lot of things that I love about fiction were left stranded. There was little-to-none descriptions of setting, placement, movement. This book was closer to a movie script with countless lines of witty dialogue occasionally doted by "so-and-so enters, so-and-so leaves," that left me able to listen to the book but unable to picture the book, if that makes any sense. Unique characters were presented, but they felt a tad flat and somehow cliche. They felt less like characters and more like prop pieces in a romance-comedy.

Loved the witty lore stories that dropped in for a bit of fun by the way. I feel there could be a whole book just containing those entries.

All said and done, the Hitchhiker's Guide was a unique-as-all-hell read that had me grinning most of the time, occasionally chuckling, and completely baffled as to what would happen next. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride, but I am not hooked on the series. This book missed too much of my old favorites, so although I'll be giving it the good rating it deserves, I won't be moving on to read more of the series. This hitchhiker's ride stops here.
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on November 17, 2016
I dunno. It probably would've been best if I only had the first book, rather than the whole shebang. The end totally lost me. The third book is just a mess of plot threads, which doesn't help when you add on Multiverse Theory and the narrative skips around with absolutely no regard for pacing.

The humor is good, and that's coming from a guy with no real sense of humor. You'll chortle throughout. However, it feels like the humor is acting as a crutch to hold the book up. Honestly, if it weren't funny, I wouldn't have finished it. The writing quality is fine, but beyond the jokes it has nothing that stands out. If you remove the constant humorous tone, it's a boring story of a guy who leaves Earth with a buddy and survives through a series of improbable coincidences.

I won't re-read it. And for books I paid money for, that's a pretty massive point against.
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on May 19, 2014
If you are going to read the complete “Hitchhiker” series then I recommend buying “The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” as it contains all five of the books in the series. Having them in one volume encourages you to read them soon after each other, and I think that enhances the experience.
The collection also contains the horrid story “Young Zaphod Plays It Safe” and it is a waste of space in the text. But, that is a small quibble, and the story is short.
I enjoyed the series, mostly, and I would recommend it to certain readers. For more specifics see below where you will find my review for all five of the novels in chronological order.

1. “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is short and never gives much development (character or plot) but it seems appropriate for this tale. The novel reminds me a lot of Vonnegut in its style and presentation. Short chapters and biting satire mixed with fantastical plot devices. And it all works!
The introduction and first chapter of this novel are funny and pull you into the book. There are moments that are so clever and witty that you will find yourself re-reading certain lines for no reason other than to enjoy them once again. Chapter 23 of the text (perhaps the book’s most famous) is brilliant and to the point. It is very short, funny, and kind of wise. Its opening line, “It is an important and popular fact that things are not often what they seem” could be a thematic statement for the book. One of the novel’s key devices is the idea that Earth is an experiment, and without revealing too much, I will say that it gives the novel its focus.
Also enjoyable are the characters of Marvin the paranoid android and Eddie, the shipboard computer on “The Heart of Gold” (a spaceship that serves as the novel’s main setting). Some of the text’s best moments and lines belong to them, and I was more endeared to them than I was to the novel’s two human characters.
“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is a delightful and quick read and I will be continuing my trip through the galaxy with its sequel, “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.”

2. “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe” reads like a typical adventure tale, and it is more in this genre than its predecessor “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The restaurant of the title is a place where the characters go and can literally watch the end of the Universe during dinner. Trust me, the way Mr. Adams explains it, it makes sense!
The plot of the novel begins right where its predecessor left off, and the set up is that space psychiatrists plot to kill Arthur Dent and Trillian because they are the last survivors from Earth, which we found out in “Hitchhiker” was an experiment designed to answer the purpose of “Life, the universe, and everything.” The psychiatrists do not want that question answered because they would be out of business. And with this clever premise it is off to the races.
In this delightful and quick romp of a novel we get to meet space psychiatrists, rock stars, and the ruler of the universe. And it goes without saying that none of it is as expected. The satire of the rock stars and bands is wonderful, as is the clever jab at rock stars that use to flee tax jurisdictions to record albums. In the book one mega space rock star even goes into “suspended death” for two years for the tax deductions.
The last 20 pages of the book contain some pretty rough satire of modern professions and social dynamics. And then the text ends abruptly, like Mr. Adams was leading you into the next novel. It worked, because I will be continuing my journey with these hitchhikers. You should too!

3. Of the three novels that I have read so far out of the five that compose the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” series, “Life, the Universe and Everything” is the weakest, but it is still incredibly good. The whole book feels like a Monty Python sketch, but the first few chapters especially feel that way. It works, but it does get a little tiresome after a while.
The humor in this text is mostly through wordplay. It serves the book well and is a strength of this novel because in terms of plot “Life, the Universe and Everything” is all over the place. The unity of the wordplay and humor serves to coalesce (as much as it can) a very scattered text. Especially enjoyable is a clever discourse on swear words, their usage and how they evolve and change. In the world of this novel the word “Belgium” is their equivalent of the F-word. This part of the novel is a witty piece of satirical writing, and is very enjoyable.
There are two interesting bits in this novel I would like to share in this review. The first is one of my favorite cameo appearances in this entire series thus far, the character of Wowbagger, the Infinitely Prolonged. He is an alien who through an accident has immortality and is bored to tears. So he makes it a mission to insult everyone in the Universe. His occasional appearances in this story are a joy. Another aspect of the text that I enjoyed is that the ultimate question and answer to everything remains unexplained. There is also a thinly veiled satire aimed at religious symbols where it seems Adams is mocking finding value in such things. It is an engaging section of the text.
I will be moving on to the fourth book in this series soon. I have enjoyed this ride so far!

4. This fourth novel in the series begins exactly as the first one, word for word, with one small twist. You can decide for yourself what you think of that twist. I did not care for it, as it shifts the focus in this text from the ones that preceded it. “So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish” begins with Arthur Dent back on earth, which is no longer destroyed (it was blown up in the first book of the series) but the explanation for how this is so is best glossed over if one wants to fully enter the world of the text. This novel does not feature the other characters from the previous three, so fans of Zaphod Beeblebrox and Trillian will be disappointed. Other series staples such as Ford Prefect and Marvin the Android make cameos in the novel’s final pages, but they seemed forced and not all that interesting in the context Mr. Adams uses here.
This are some shining moments in this book, among them chapter 25 in which the author’s persona intrudes into the text to answer the question “Does Arthur Dent f-word?” We also get to see “God’s final message to His creation”, and it is actually not a letdown.
At one point in the novel Arthur tells someone “See first, think later, then test” as the best way to approach something one does not fully comprehend. If you don’t take the last two parts of his advice while you are reading “So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish” you can enjoy the text.
I am anxious to see how the series concludes in installment 5, and I will be traveling that way soon.

5. "Mostly Harmless" is a great example of a writer extending a series by one book too many. Of the five books in the "Hitchhiker" series numbers four and five don't add much to it, and take a lot from it. "Mostly Harmless" just feels out of sync with the books that preceded it. Stylistically it is also very different, the chapters are much longer, the humor is much rarer, etc. It is not a good change.
A big flaw of the text is that our hero Arthur Dent does not even show up until chapter seven, and even when he does there is no transition from how we left him in book four, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish." From chapter seven to almost the final 40 pages the chapters alternate point of view between Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. I found Prefect's story boring until his storyline merges with Dent's about 3/4s of the way through the novel.
The book does have some good moments, particularly chapter nine in which it finally feels like the other novels in the series. Arthur Dent goes to the planet Hawalius to seek the advice of the oracles that inhabit it. In this chapter we see sparks of the Douglas Adams from the previous texts and it is a joy to read. There is also a witty cameo appearance by Elvis, which is cleverly woven into the plotline.
As has been stated in previous reviews "Mostly Harmless" is a dark text, almost nihilistic in its themes. The series ends in a uncharacteristic manner. Although as a reader I did not like the ending per se, I do feel it was kind of appropriate. It feels jarring and out of place at the same time. I can't say much more without spoiling it. Regardless it does give the series a sense of definite completion, and I think that is a good thing.
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