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4.3 out of 5 stars
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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 9 August 2001
I agree that it may not be as funny as some of the other Hitchhiker books, but then again, books 3 & 4 (Life, The Universe... & So Long, and Thanks...) were already less funny than the first two, which both really stand out above the rest on the humor scale. Partly because of its sheer random plotless road-movie style.
To me, books 3 & 4 were the ones that suffered from lack of plot/satisfying ending. Especially So Long and Thanks... was, though quite funny at times, rather a disappointment in the end, though it started off very well, a bit in the style of the Dirk Gently novels. He might have apologised for the inconvenience indeed.
As it is, it seems to me that, steering further away from the absurd humor that inhabited the beginning of the series, Adams tried to write out a good plot (a bit like with the Dirk Gently novels) that would satisfyingly wrap up the whole series - tricky, but could he do it? Yes, definitely yes. I can readily say that the "trilogy" wouldn't have been complete without it! It is a pity that he didn't hold onto the meandering nutter-style. Note that the book chapters switch very orderly between Trillian/Arthur/Ford, as do most of the more conventional novels. That's because here, he's more interested in creating a mystery with suspense and tension, rather than following in the footsteps of Monty Python. That is, the general plot here still makes absolutely no real sense (though everything fits in the end), but there are not much absurdities in the story itself, and the dialogues are less important and contain less unforgettable oneliners - DA concentrates on telling the story and finishing it.
Maybe Adams was better (and probably unique) at being an heir to Python rather than being a detective/mystery novelist. Still, in picking a totally absurd idea and working it out in such a way that it wraps it all up in a satisfactory manner is some stunt. Where the original two books get 1 star for plot and 4 for humor, this one gets 2 for humor and 3 for plot - still adding up to 5!
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It is impossible not to have some mixed feelings about this novel. It does stand as a return to the wild frivolity and cuttingly biting humor of the first three books, yet it is certainly less than upbeat, all things considered. Despite all kinds of evidence to the contrary, I always had the feeling that things would work out, even for poor Arthur Dent—the universe might not make a bit of sense, of course, but these characters I love so much would ultimately at least find a sense of peace if not happiness in some forgotten corner of the cosmos. It’s something of a downer to find out this is not really the case. Two characters who very much made up the heart of the series for me, Marvin and Zaphod, are not even present in these pages. Then you have Fenchurch from the fourth book, a character I really came to love, thrown out of the saga like so much spoiled Perfectly Normal Beast meat. It’s nice to have Trillian back, albeit in a couple of transdimensional forms, as well as Ford and Arthur, but it’s hard to say who the story is really about. Arthur’s new life as a Sandwich Maker on a remote planet his ship crashed on is rather pitiful but totally Dent-like. Ford’s attempts to undo the tragic consequences of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy company having been taken over by unscrupulous business men is interesting. The introduction of a Tricia McMillan who did not leave the party with Zaphod because she decided to go back for her handbag ends up just muddying the waters of the fictional time stream. Then there is Random, the biological daughter of Arthur Dent by Trillian; she is even more mixed up and generally confused about life than the father she only meets as a teenager dumped by her too-busy mother. It might be said that this is Random’s story, but all she really does is provide the means by which the principal actors Ford, Arthur, and Trillian are eventually brought together for the final conclusion.
Adams did do an impressive job of bringing things together in the end—characters and situations not only from this novel itself but from the start of the whole Hitchhiker’s saga (think Vogons). Why a pesky number of loose threads were allowed to hang out, though, while so much work went into resolving other looming storylines, is beyond me and did much to mar the satisfaction I got from the rather abrupt, unfortunate conclusion. I am particularly bothered by the fact that Fenchurch, a character important enough for Adams to have written the entire fourth novel about, is summarily dismissed with little thought and even little grief from Arthur Dent himself. I should not complain about the way Adams chose to end this delightful series of novels of his own imaginative creation, yet I cannot help feeling disappointed if not a little cheated by the way in which everything ended. All in all, while I did enjoy parts of this book immensely, I would rather have ended things with the happy note of So Long, and Thanks For all the Fish, and be left free to imagine what kinds of messes Ford and Arthur might be getting themselves into somewhere in the universe and wondering what really ever happened to Trillian and Zaphod.
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on 5 July 1999
After falling in love with the other four books of the series, you could do worse than to totally avoid the final installment. The overall feeling is of a novel which has been rushed out to meet a publishing deadline. I personally felt that the ending was so flimsy that it was an insult to anyone who had spent time reading the rest of the series. MOSTLY UNIMPRESSED.
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on 22 April 2014
It's still Douglas Adams. It's still Arthur Dent. It's still Hitchhikers guide. But... it's missing something. It just seems the others were a bit more put together. This one is a bit random and not in the good way the others are. Still an alright read, but not excellent like the rest.
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on 12 September 2015
I was very surprised at this book. The fourth book in this series was such a disappointment that I was not holding out much hope for this one. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the renewed level of cleverness that Douglas Adams was able to weave into the plot. It wraps up the series pretty nicely as the characters come full circle. There are recognisable characters and creatures from earlier in the series and I feel like this book was a decent note to end the series on. That being said, it is in no way as good as the first two or three and I would only recommend that you read this if you have read the travesty that is the fourth book and want to renew your faith in the series.
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on 12 June 2003
In the fifth, and final, book of the Hitchhiker trilogy Adams leaves the reader feeling satisfied, but at the same time rather empty. Plot never being a key factor in Adams' novels, Mostly Harmless carries on the trend in fine style. Not that this has a major effect on the enjoyment of the book, but it can be at times a little confusing.
A promising mysterious start pales into insignificance as the book progresses and the introduction of the unknown ship is bordering on irrelevance. A few chapters into the book we are reintroduced to Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect but any others characters seem to have only a small role to play or have been completely forgotten.
Although the ending is wrapped up nicely a few major issues are left unresolved, such as the disappearance of Fenchurch and the whereabouts of Zaphod, but the clean wit and the unrivalled ability to make any situation seem interesting or obscure hold the book together well and overall make the book an enjoyable read. Interestingly the book is fully summed up the character Random and the title Mostly Harmless.
I would say a book for the more dedicated fans, who maybe appreciate the writing style more than any kind of structure or plot, but sure to make you laugh at some point otherwise.
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on 4 February 2015
Douglas Adams created a group of characters which have gone on to become a cult. I've read the books, listened to the Radio series (on CD), watched the TV series ( not very good ), went to the cinema to see the film and still found Adams' work to be fresh today as it was all those year's ago.
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2005
This book is quite different from the other four in the Universe's only five-part "trilogy". Once again, you need to have read the whole series to appreciate it, but there's a lot that's not there in this supposed final book.
More like a set of short stories about Arthur Dent, Trillian and Ford Prefect, the greater part of the book is hugely entertaining and wonderfully witty, but for the first time, all the ends aren't tied up in the last chapter or so.
Unsatisfactorily sucked into the black hole of oblivion are Zaphod and Fenchurch, but the story is saved largely by the misadventures of our heroes, and the introduction of the perpetually happy robot, Colin.
It's full of knee-slapping slapstick, Mission Impossible type espionage, DNA donations and dandy sandwich making, but as a thrilling and grand finale it's a complete failure.
Refreshingly funny, but not satisfyingly wrapped-up.
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on 24 January 2014
Read a few times. The more I read the stores, the more I think Adams was a genius. If you think about work and every day situations, the quirky aliens remind more of real life people I've meet ( bankers, politicians, and other people who don't seem to be in touch with real life and reality ).
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on 20 September 2013
I've really enjoyed the Hitchhikers series, and this was a pleasant enough end to the 'trilogy'. It doesn't even come close to the brilliance of the earlier books, which is why it doesn't score higher, but if you've read and enjoyed the previous titles there's nothing to fear here. Hovered between a 3 and 4 star rating
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