Author: Eoin Colfer
Year written: 2009
Publisher and year: BCA, 2009
ISBN Number: 978-0141042138
This is another of those books that’s been on my shelves for years, though not as long as the last one. I think I pre-ordered this one so it must have been 2009 I got it, though I haven’t been able to read it properly until now. I remember starting it but didn’t get that far so this time I’ve given it a proper go. It’s still available on Amazon for £8.99 though I don’t think I paid that for it new so might be worth looking around if you want a copy.
And Another Thing… is written as a sixth book in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Or Hitch Hiker’s, as some of the originals have on the cover), series by Douglas Adams written by Eoin Colfer, who I had heard of because of the Artemis Fowl series. I can’t remember the last time I read the five originals by Douglas Adams so it may be a direct follow on, it does start at the end of the world in a small club in London which I think is the end of the previous book having glanced at the last few pages.
I really like the cover of this book, well the dust jacket anyway, the ship on the front is a bit of an odd style for a spaceship but it does make sense inside the book. For some reason it reminds me a lot of the Robert Rankin covers with a surreal image that looks like a photograph of a model. The neon sign on top of the ship just goes with the random events that always happen in Douglas Adams stories with the probability drive and I just like the style. Under the dust cover it’s a plain black material covered book with gold print on the spine, it’s the sort of book that will go in any classical book shelf if you want that look too.
The book itself took a while to get going for me, I was so confused for about the first fifty pages and, although some of it was backstory and a sort of ‘previously on’ from the end of the previous book, part of the beginning seemed a bit unnecessary. It does get referred to later but it’s a bit of an odd thing to have in there given how the story goes. If you’re finding the beginning a bit slow moving then give it a chance and keep going, it gets better very quickly when it properly starts.
Given that it’s part of the Douglas Adams universe it has all of the characters you’d expect; Arthur Dent (minus towel and dressing gown), Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Trillian and the bad guys the Vogons are back. I’d say he’s stayed pretty true to the characters, I could tell who they all were and they all reacted the way you’d expect if you have previous knowledge of the series. I don’t know how much sense the characters would make to people who haven’t read the other books as there isn’t all that much of an introduction. You can get a feel of the characters through their interactions though so maybe that’s enough.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide itself seems more of a character in this one, it reminds me more of the movie made in the 2000s than the books as it seems to interrupt a lot with small excerpts from it and some of them are unnecessary and feel a bit like padding. Most of the time they aren’t in the most interesting bits but there are a couple of times where it seems to break up the action and make it a bit disjointed to me.
There are additional characters, the Norse Gods make a rather large appearance and it was rather hard not to imagine Chris Hemsorth as Thor and Idris Elba as Heimdall, which is a bit odd in the way they’re described in the book but still. I found that I actually liked some of these other characters more than the main ones, Thor in particular was a favourite of mine in this.
I did enjoy this book, Douglas Adams’ style was copied well and I did find that once the story started it turned into one of those books I wanted to read one more chapter before putting it down which meant I got through it faster than I expected with 340 pages. There’s plenty of random encounters, facts about oddly named creatures and planets that are irrelevant but can be fun if they’re in the right place. The way it jumps around and follows the different groups, including the Vogons, could be confusing but it works and I managed to still follow the different threads before they joined again at the end. I think the fact that a lot of these were broken up into small segments so you didn’t have time to forget about what was happening with one group before they were back being the ones you were reading about.
If you like the idea of a comedy about space travel with a definitely British sense of humour, at least to me, then give the series a go but don’t start here. I think the characters are the main reason this one works and they were already existing. The combination of the typically British Arthur Dent amongst all of the alien technology and ideas and his reactions are what make this series great alongside the other main characters who are so out there and strange that the contrast just works and Arthur Dent kind of becomes the reader and how they’d react. That aspect is less there in this book but it still is to an extent, the fact he’s been travelling through space and seen so many things does explain the fact he’s less surprised but it does remove that connection with the reader at times, at least to me.
If you like Douglas Adams’ ‘trilogy’ then this would be worth a look, just because it’s a good story with a lot of the same elements that the originals have in style and the events that happen in it. However if you haven’t it’s not the best of the series so I’d start with the original Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and then go from there if you enjoy them. To me it’s a series that works best read in order, the references in the later books to the events in the first might make no sense at all if you haven’t read it, such as mice having made the planet, which aren’t exactly major parts of this book but are referred to and I think you’d enjoy these little references more if you know the existing series.
If you weren’t a fan of the later books then I’d give this one a miss, I do agree that the quality in the later books of the series weren’t up to the original but I still really like them and want to read them. This book continues on in the line of the later books to me, the sense of humour and the more tangled storylines but they do work if you like that style of writing. It has made me want to read the original series again and I think in the future when I read the others I will be reading this on the end after them. And this is a series that has had frequent reads in the past so I will be reading it again, a bit like Harry Potter and the Middle Earth books I re-read them fairly often.
I guess overall I have enjoyed this book but there are elements that are a bit off. It could have been a great book if there were less interruptions from the Guide and, to be honest, I wasn’t a fan of the character of Random and just found myself really not liking some of the bits she was in. I don’t think that saying her name counts as a spoiler as she’s in the previous book and in the ‘previously on’ style bit within the introduction before the story even begins. With these though it’s just good, I’ll definitely be re-reading it but as part of the series, I’m undecided about whether I would be reading this again if it wasn’t in a series of others that I like.