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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 17 June 2004
Anyone who has read and enjoyed the sublime Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe is sure to welcome the third book of the series with open arms. At the same time however, they may quite rightly be concerned as to whether the high standard of the earlier books can be matched by Adams' third effort. If at all possible, 'Life, the Universe and Everything' is even more far-fetched than its predecessors. Not that that's a bad thing, of course: "Arthur felt happy. He was terribly pleased that the day was for once working out so much according to plan. Only twenty minutes ago he had decided he would go mad, and now here he was already chasing a Chesterfield sofa across the fields of prehistoric Earth."
As far as the characters are concerned, Arthur - despite having spent five years living as a caveman since we last saw him - remains a blundering fool in a dressing gown. The only difference perhaps is the appearance of a beard, decorated with a rabbit's bone (this, surprisingly, holds some significance as the story progresses). Thrilled to find himself propelled back in time, Arthur has the dubious pleasure of witnessing a cricket match at Lords, and is partly responsibly for the mass-hysteria that ensues. Slartibartfast takes on a larger role in this story, as he leads the intergalactic group around the universe and attempts to thrust his authority upon anyone who will listen.
One of my favourite parts of the book is that describing the alien with a chip on his shoulder: Bitter about the treatment he has received from his fellow space creatures, he makes it his mission to personally insult every living organism in the universe. Arthur's reaction in particular is very amusing. I also liked the description of the party that had quite literally taken on a life of its own. The original guests, all too stubborn to leave, found themselves spending their lives in the alcohol-strewn room, and as they began spawning children, the phrase 'survival of the fittest' aptly describes the consequences. The strongest party-goer genes were passed on to the next generation, and so the decades of partying continued.
I was disappointed that the evil Vogons failed to make an appearance this time around. Vindictive they may have been, but hugely entertaining nonetheless. Instead, Adams opted to introduce a race of killer white robots. They are far less intereting unfortunately, but Marvin the paranoid android goes some way in readdressing the balance as far as entertainment goes.
All in all, Life, the Universe and Everything os a fantastic book. Short, yes, but I favour quality over quantity any day. It's an enjoyable way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, and fans of Douglas Adams won't be disappointed.
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on 6 August 2016
First half of book is alright, definitely gets better at the end. Bit disappointed with this one compared to the others in the set. Bit disappointed firstly as they have failed to print the last two books of this set & secondly the binding is so poor that several pages popped out when I was reading it the first time! Sadly I read it a short while after returns are possible so I'm lumped with a book which is just going to fall apart.
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on 31 July 2000
I loved this book for it's basic simplicity, yet unfathambly complex story. It made a change to the usual space trips of the previouse three books, and i think if it had continued along the same track it could easily have become dull. It wasn't so fast moving but the humour was superb and it still leaves you something to think about to lifes complexities. I just loved Gods final words - a great way to end it!
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on 30 March 2000
The charge levelled at this book that it is unlike the rest of the Hitch Hikers books is true. It isn't like them much at all. What it retains are the best features; Douglas Adams's fantastically complex yet simple (yes I know it's a complete contradiction) writing and the strong characters that have been built up from Earth's armageddon. His style of embellishment makes you want to read great passages of the book again, partly because you didn't quite understand it the first time you read it, partly because the ideas contained within the writing are thoroughly mind-mangling when first read and deceptively simple when you figure out what the hell is going on, but mostly because the actual language he uses flows around your head like the psychedelic blobs in a lava lamp as they are being poured down a transparent plughole. It (the fourth book in the series) is wonderfully strange, admirably barmy, and surprisingly innovative for sci-fi in bringing in one or two romantic scenes that make you wish you were in them and not next to a sick bucket. This is one of the only books I have read that has made my face try to express confusion, surprise, wonder, and laugh out loud all at the same time. Anyone who complains that it is not exactly the same as "the good old days" of Hitch Hikers has no imagination or soul.
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on 14 March 2013
Both my husband and I are big Adams fans and read the books many times. Decided to get the audio books for in the car since our 4 yr old son enjoys them too.

This audio installment sadly he will not be able to enjoy, although it is abridge, curse words in the original text have been left in, I won't give away details by saying where but please be aware if you are buying these for children, I would recommend parents listen to these in full first.

With the warning bit done, on to the main.

This is the 3rd installment in the five part trilogy (any Adams fan will know what I mean here, if not, Where Have You Been?!?) and the continuing adventure for our team, Arthur (the last earthman), Ford (Arthur's friend from another world), Trilian (Earthwoman who ran away with Zaphod but is the love interest of Arthur) and Zaphod (The 2 headed, 3 armed Gallactic President) as they travel through both space and time. The story continues from where the previous book, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe left off with our main 2 players, Arthur and Ford being on the planet Earth, that isn't really a planet (never was) but is infact a super computer being run by Mice, some old favourites come into play again, Marvin (the depressed android) and Slarttibartfarst (a Magrathean who helped build Earth).

To fully understand this book I feel it is is only possible if the series is read (listened) to in order since as a stand alone book this will make no sense at all and is obvious when you come to the end that the story is not complete (well this is only part 3 of 5).
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VINE VOICEon 2 June 2005
Following a highly productive breakthrough period when he was simultaneously knocking out scripts for both Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who, Douglas Adams famously struggled with writer's block during the later half of his career as a novelist. Previous Hitchhiker novel Life, the Universe and Everything was itself a re-worked Doctor Who story, and by the time of 4th Hitchhiker novel So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish you can feel the author struggling to find a story to tell.
If there is a problem with this novel, it's that there simply isn't enough story here. Previous instalments in the Hitchhiker's series may have been short, but they were packed with fantastic mind bending SF concepts, which are almost entirely absent here. The main storyline consists of Arthur Dent returning to a mysteriously no-longer-destroyed Earth, and having a romance with Fenchurch, the girl who in a throwaway line in the original Hitchhiker's novel had a divine revelation on how to achieve world peace just before the Earth was destroyed by the Vogons. Arthur and Fenchurch's romance is touching, especially a chapter where they both fly through the clouds together, but storywise it doesn't really go anywhere - the identity of Earth's saviours is fairly evident from the books title (though incidentally, why is there a picture of a sea lion on the cover - misdirection?), and Fenchurch never remembers her divine plan for world peace.
At the end Adams tags on a coda where Arthur and Fenchurch meet up with Ford Prefect and Marvin (who dies, again) to read God's Last Message To His Creation, following up on the finale of Life, the Universe and Everything, but if anything this feels almost tagged on simply to please the fans of the previous novels. The only ideas that are original to this book, such as the unwilling Rain God, or Wonko's inside-out asylum, are mildly amusing but nothing more.
So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish is by no means a bad novel, and thanks to Adams prose it is engagingly readable, but it is a novel all about character - specifically having a few nice things happen to Arthur Dent for a while- and sorely lacking in plot, so don't expect anything much to actually happen beyond Arthur's romance. A pleasant read for fans of the previous 3 novels in the series, but by this stage Douglas Adams just seems to have run out of ideas, and was grinding a novel out for the sake of it.
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on 18 July 2013
This took me forever to read which is highly odd for me when it comes to Douglas Adams. I normally get through his books in one sitting and I laugh constantly. I don't know if I wasn't in the mood or if this book simply isn't as good as the others, but I didn't enjoy it as much and struggled at times to keep reading.

I think my problem is that I didn't find a plot. Adams isn't really known for his obvious plots but there is always some sort of story in the previous Hitchhiker books but this one hurdled around so quick in the first two thirds that I was lost, a tiny bit bored & not laughing at the jokes I would of otherwise found funny. I did find the last third enjoyable and I found myself finally getting into the book as it was just ending, typical really.

I will definitely finish the series and hope that this book isn't an omen for the last two.
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on 11 August 2001
I'm sometimes surprised when people find part of a series not as good as the rest. This time, I see it from a different perspective. The best parts of the real "trilogy" were when Arthur Dent was trying to get to terms with the overall differentness of space - the nutri-matic, Improbability Drive, and so on. But this book is merely about Arthur Dent's "exciting" adventures on Planet Earth. The romance with Fenchurch is far too "real" for these books, and has little of the zaniness I expected - more like a cheap romance novel. The only interest is when Arthur leaves the planet to meet space again, and the bits with Ford. I'd recommend it to fans perhaps, if only for the sense of completeness. But read this, then read the original, and see the difference in plot and quality.
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on 15 April 2015
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish: 4/5 (Hitchhikers Guide 4) by Douglas Adams

Rating: 4 out of 5

This is Book 4 of the Hitchhiker series but its very different to the first three. It features Arthur Dent, Ford Prefect and Marvin (briefly), I missed Trillian and Zaphod and obviously a whole lot more of Marvin. As always, it is a cleverly written book with typical Douglas Adams humour.

I was disappointed by the overt focus on romance in this copy (reminded me of cheapish 70s sci-fi movies with better dialogues). I would have preferred more space action to boring earthly love scenes.
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VINE VOICEon 13 September 2003
THE STORY:
Arthur Dent is reunited with Ford Prefect and together they, reluctantly, try to prevent cricket (or rather Krikkit) from destroying the universe.
WHAT'S GOOD:
Arthur Dent, for starters. The single most misunderstood and unfortunate character in science fiction. We also get to see the return of our other favourite space bums; apathetic Ford Prefect, foolishly clever Zaphod, down-to-earth Trillian and the heroic (not) Marvin the robot (who depresses an evil robot army to death). The idea that cricket is mankind's only memory of an intergalactic war tickled me especially.
WHAT'S BAD:
Whilst inventive, the Bistromathics (in which calculations are made by eating at an Italian bistro) proved to be a bit too tedious for my tastes. Also I felt the book ended in a bit of an anti-climax.
Not essential reading as the first two are, but good nonetheless.
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