Poor Eoin Colfer had enormous shoes to fill taking on Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s trilogy, and as a die-hard fan of Adams, I have to admit I was highly skeptical that a children’s author could actually pull it off. When this kind of thing happens, though, you just have to go in with an open mind, prepared for something that you know could never in a million years replicate the original author’s unique humour and style, and hopefully find something that is good in its own right. In the case of Hitchhiker’s Guide, though, Colfer’s efforts were less than pleasingly froody (to quote Ford Prefect).
Colfer can be forgiven, though, as in some regards he was absolutely spot on, especially when it came to style. At the same time, though, he gives the impression of trying a little bit too hard to get it all right. Because of this, the book feels bogged down at times. His Guide Notes, for example, started out being fun, but after a while they were too frequent and too long. In fact, the whole book was way too long: Adams’s were typically short affairs, but Colfer gets rambley.
I miss Marvin, too. If Arthur can be resurrected – this time with his pajamas and dressing gown being replaced with his old school boy’s uniform complete with cap – then surely our favourite manic depressive robot can be too. All the other old favourites are there, though, including Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford Prefect and Trillian.
Some interesting new additions and some expanded-upon characters from previous books are there as well. These respectively include some unemployed gods, and Bowerick Wowbagger, the infinitely prolonged – a green alien who by pure accident becomes immortal. In order to relieve the tedium of having to live forever, he embarks on a crusade to insult every single being in the universe. He calls Beeblebrox a “fat arse” but saves the day by rescuing Arthur and company on the Tanngrisnir, an amazing ship he stole from Thor.
Two other new additions are Hillman Hunter, a property developer with the worst Irish accent imaginable, and a Vogon boy with evolution issues who also happens to be the son of Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, a.k.a Utter Bastard, the Vogon Captain in charge of overseeing the destruction of the Earth.
So, at any rate, if you’re a Hitchhiker’s fan, or even if you’ve never read any of the original series, you really should read this. It’s not perfect, but it still has some very entertaining moments.
(A word of advice: try to read the original English editions if you can. For some strange, but sadly expected reason, the Americans change bits they think are offensive. For example, when Wowbagger insults Arthur with: “You’re a jerk, a complete arsehole” the Americans changed it to “You’re a jerk, a complete kneebiter”. Lame really, … It’s all too reminiscent of when Aussie author, Andy Griffiths’ hilarious The day my bum went psycho was changed to The day my butt went psycho, and Zombie bums from Uranus naturally became Zombie butts from Uranus. Infuriating…)