Mostly Harmless (Hitchhiker’s Guide, #5)

ISBN: 0345418778
ISBN 13: 9780345418777
By: Douglas Adams

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About this book

The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy.Douglas Adams is back with the amazing, logic-defying, but-why-stop-now fifth novel in the Hitchhiker Trilogy. Here is the epic story of Random, who sets out on a transgalactic quest to find the planet of her ancestors. Line drawings.

Reader's Thoughts

Charles

** spoiler alert ** In my personal opinion, Mostly Harmless was a decent book. Had it been written by anyone other than Douglas Adams, I would have to describe it as one of the greatest books ever written by someone other than Douglas Adams. Unfortunately for all of us, it was written by Douglas Adams. Mostly Harmless did to the Hitchhikers series what Jar Jar Binks did to Star Wars, although it was a noteworthy and decent addition to the series, it just didn't fit properly.The story starts out with Adams' usual wit and confusing yet suprisingly/disturbingly sensible logic and science. It describes the confusion of a ship's AI getting an error message it doesn't understand, realising that the central core has been knocked out, and in trying to replace it the ship loses the backup unit as well and is forced to land wake up the crew, who have just as little of an idea of whats going on as the computer does without their memories, other than that they have to "land" somewhere and "observe" something. It then skips forward to Tricia McMillain in another universe, Ford Prefect in a suddenly grimmer guide office, and Arthur Dent losing his girlfriend in hyperspace. This all begins to come together very slowly and confusingly as Tricia is taken by the memoryless aliens to a planet beyond Pluto, Arthur goes on a search for a new home, and Ford discovers a frightening conspiracy and subsequently hacks the Guides new parent company's bank account. Eventually, everything starts to come together even more as Arthur is reunited with his now teenage daughter Random Frequent Flyer Dent and subsequently Ford, they go on a quest to find random and the Guide Mk II, a multidimensional device that exists in the whole multiverse simultaneously. As they traverse dimensional rifts they meet up with an aged Elvis Presley to whom Arthur is oblivious of, buy his ship, and head back to earth. Then, during a frightening and confusing confrontation with Arthur, Trillian, Ford, Tricia, Random, Guide Mk II,and a dead club owner, everything comes together and the group, the guide, and all possibe earths are destroyed forever. Thats it.I am a huge fan of Douglas Adams' work and would gladly give a 5 out of 5 rating for any of his other books. Sadly, this does hot deserve it in my mind. Most of Adams' incomprehensibly witty comedic genius and satirical comedy has been replaced with a dark, tragic undertone and the sense of loss throughout, with everything from Arthur losing Fenchurch in transit due to humans coming from a plural sector planet, Tricia losing her opportunity with Zaphod and NBS, Ford's realization that the guide had become a bloated beaurocratic corporation even before InfiniDim took over, Trillian's frequent time travel causing her to miss out on her daughter's childhood, to Random's absence of a sense of self or her history, and finally ending with the destruction of all possible Earths simply so Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz can put a check in a box on a piece of paper giving the all clear for a Hyperspace Bypass that was cancelled long ago. Though much of Adams' maniacal humor remains in the form of things like the Lamuellan's admiration of sandwich making and worship of Almighty Bob, to the meeting with Elvis in which Arthur was totally oblivious to his presence, to the aliens' love of Earth TV and McDonalds, to Ford buying the london zoo and half of Africa while shrugging off Arthur's problems with the cruelty of Foie Gras, Mostly Harmless still has probably the most depressing undertone of any book ever written. Possibly the saddest part is that Adams wrote this due to negative reception of the totally positive undertone of So Long..., with people finding things going far to well with Arthur's life, so his response was bsically to counteract totally positive with absoltely depressing. Adams admits that he wrote this during a bad year, and the final product reflects this. Overall, I would give Mostly Harmless a 3 out of 5, seeing as how it is still an excellent book, and would recommend it to any who want to know how the series really ended.

Olivia Ambrose

Olivia Ambrose ~ Humor“Mostly Harmless” is the fifth book of the Hitchhiker’s Trilogy. And after reading this book, I can honestly say that I still have no idea what it is about. It is the continuing adventures of Arthur Dent, Ford Perfect and Trillian, but there are parallel worlds involved, and everything is a mess. Will Arthur ever figure out what’s going on? Will the reader? I didn’t. I swear you have to have the attention span of a goldfish to understand these books. And as the series has gone on, this has only gotten worse. It’s an interesting read, but also kind of annoying because I didn’t know what was going on most of the time.

Brett

Unmitigated failure. The tone is despondent, bleak, and harsh - with only the occasional spot of humor. Interesting scenes are few and far between. Contrived plot devices are thrown around as if Adams won them in a raffle. The story is purposeless and only loosely held together. The ending is a disaster. A friend of mine compared this book to Vogon poetry, and I couldn't argue one bit.Setting:The Galaxy - or rather, multiple galaxies, in multiple universes, all at the same time.Plot:Tricia McMillian - a version of Trillian that never ran off with Zaphod - is stuck in a rut, regretting her decision and lamenting the fact that she, and she alone, knows that alien life exists...until another group of aliens decides to contact her. Ford Prefect returns to the Hitchhiker's Guide offices, only to discover something terribly wrong there. Meanwhile, Arthur Dent, having lost Fenchurch and his happiness, is traveling through space in a desperate search for some Earth or vaguely Earthlike place to call home, entirely unprepared to discover that he's a father now.The plot is a mess. It starts off feeling like the story will be about Tricia and this alternate reality, promptly forgets about her and shifts gears into a rambling tale of multiple universes, and completely fails to make any sense or gain any inertia. The Tricia segment was the most interesting to me, but it is so badly underutilized. It probably could've been its own book, but is reduced to being a handful of inconsequential chapters. Ford's arc has very little actually happen, and is mostly a rehash of jokes from earlier in the series (and earlier in this book, in places.) Arthur's arc is by far the primary one...which makes it confusing as to why it's introduced last - a full 7 chapters into the story before you even see him (47 pages in my version.) And Arthur's arc is plagued by travesties like Fenchurch being magically removed from the story and having a crazy, bipolar teenage Random thrown into his life.Then there's the ending, which is terrifically unsatisfying. Not only is it bad, but it's coming on the heels of So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, which had a much more satisfying ending and served as a perfect wrap to the series. Mostly Harmless not only undoes this beautiful, bittersweet ending, but finishes on a much more sour (and final) note. It's simply a terrible way to end a series, and feels like an insult every time I read it. In the radio adaptation of the book, they actually changed the ending to a completely original one in order to have it not suck as badly. Characters:Tricia McMillan is very interesting, which surprised me. Trillian is easily my least favorite character in the series, but this other version of her - the one that never ran off with Zaphod - is a strong, smart, interesting character who probably should've been the star of the book.Arthur has undergone a major shift. He's always been kind of simple, but was never dumb. In this entry, he's become a blithering idiot. Rather than having agency in the story (like in the previous volume) he just does what other characters tell him to do, and he seems to have trouble understanding anything that anybody else says.Ford feels flat and that really detracts from his segments.Zaphod is absent, but Random Dent serves as a sort of replacement for him. It's not a good tradeoff. Random is, as her name suggests, completely random and illogical in everything she does. She seems like a take on the impulsive, parent-hating teenager - only taken to the extremes. Much of her interaction is written away in exposition, but what you do see of her does not seem like anything resembling a functional human being...even a hormonal teenage one.Pacing:Tedious, but thankfully it's short.Notes:Douglas Adams wrote this during a period of serious depression, which does a lot to explain its tone and lack of humor. Adams himself was so dissatisfied with this book that he decided, years later, to write a sixth Hitchhiker's Guide novel, in order to end the series in a more proper way. Sadly, he died before he could actually write it, and only left a few notes on what he was considering doing...which would eventually lead to Eoin Colfer being given the reigns to write And Another Thing...Spoiler Zone!(view spoiler)[The way that Fenchurch was written out of the story really annoyed me. I don't necessarily have a problem with breaking them up in order to kickstart Arthur's story (even though the last book was specifically built around their romance), but Adams couldn't even be bothered to *try.* Fenchurch just randomly disappears in a unforeseeable hyperspace accident, for no reason, and we don't even see it - it's communicated via exposition. It was so contrived. Arthur needed to be single for this book, so Fenchurch up and vanishes via a half-assed plot device that hasn't been foreshadowed or set up in any way.I wish the story had been about Tricia. I was annoyed when she dropped out of the story, then *really* annoyed when she showed back up at the end, just to get killed off.My favorite part of the novel was Arthur's stint as the Sandwich Maker. That was a pretty brilliant little spot, but it winds up as trash once Random shows up. The scenes between her and Arthur were just painfully bad. Trillian, for what little she is there for, seems to be a completely different person than her previous depictions...but still an unlikable one. Previously, her major flaw was a lack of character - she was overly clingy, and just went along with everything Zaphod (and later Thor (and later Arthur)) did. Now she's a single mother, distant with her child and entirely focused on her career, so much so that she hunts down Arthur so that she has someone to dump the kid off on. The Elvis part threatened to be funny, but Adams decided to run that joke into the ground before he let Arthur & Ford leave the bar.I dislike the entire concept of the Guide Mk.II, and it doesn't make much sense in the story. There's not even a real attempt to make it make sense - Adams just drops this new thing in there with a few lines of technobabble, has it do lots of serious stuff, and hopes you won't notice that he didn't actually explain anything about it. It's basically a ready-made deus ex machina. The ending was atrocious for several reasons. I actually appreciated the reveal that the bar "Stravro Mueller's Beta" was actually the place where Arthur kills Agrajag, rather than a planet, as Arthur assumed. That was about all I liked. The idea of destroying the Earth across all possible existences, thus absolutely ensuring that all the main characters die in every possible eventuality, is kind of a dick move unless it was properly set up...which this wasn't. The Vogons are barely featured in the book at all, only to show up at the end and kill everyone. The implication is that they (somehow) bought out the Hitchhiker's Guide and (somehow) had the Guide Mk.II created in order to (somehow) ensure the destruction of all the Earths. None of that is really explained. This is all implied in the ending, but there's no real set up before that. It's sloppy writing making for a sloppy story.I wouldn't have a problem with everyone dying if there was a coherent plot that brought them down, but to have it just slapped on at the end there feels like a slap in the face. It is not a good way to end a series. I'm thankful that they finally got someone to write the sixth book that Adams had planned on, but I have some serious reservations about whether or not Eoin Colfer could possibly resurrect the story from this bad of an ending. I'm not sure if Adams could've done it. UPDATE: I've since read And Another Thing... and I was pleasantly surprised. It's pretty good. Not great, but most of its flaws stem from the fact that Colfer was stuck with the continuity that Mostly Harmless established. It provides a better ending to the series than Mostly Harmless, but not as good as So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish did.In all, I just wish this book had never been written. I would appreciate the Hitchhiker's Guide series *much* more if it ended with So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish. That's where it ends in my head :D(hide spoiler)]/endreview["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Roberta

Dei libri che compongono questa "trilogia in cinque volumi" Praticamente innocuo è sicuramente il più dismesso e malinconico. Le parti con Ford Prefect sono sempre piuttosto scoppiettanti, ma anche lui si lascia andare a nostalgiche fantasie sul periodo in cui la Guida era ancora in stadio embrionale, e sui suoi sogni perduti e mai realizzati. Arthur Dent vola di paese in paese cercando disperatamente qualcosa di familiare e quando gli pare di averlo trovato viene raggiunto da Trillian che mette in moto una serie di eventi inevitabili che infrangono la sua precaria serenità. Tricia (nella dimensione alternativa) rimpiange la sua occasione con Zaphod mentre Trillian (nella dimensione in cui accettò l'invito di Zaphod) è comunque insoddisfatta e malinconica. L'atmosfera nostalgica dona al romanzo, che ne guadagna in coerenza, finale incluso. Passate le mattane dei primi due volumi e le incertezze dei due successivi, mi sembra che questo sia quasi un romanzo maturo. E in ogni caso, "qualunque cosa che accade, accade".

Henry Avila

The Milky Way Galaxy, is in a state of confusion, the dozen Universes ( you didn't know, there are more than one?), have exploded into each other. Nothing is what it was, historians have quit, what's the point, everything keeps on changing, since history is fluid. Tricia McMillan (Trillian in another existence, is not happy, the television anchor is back in England, after an unsuccessful job interview in New York City, at ten times more money too! Dead tired from the overnight flight, she can barley walk to her house, but her odd gardener, Eric Bartlett, points out strange marks on Tricia's lawn, space aliens undoubtedly, and being polite, pretends to care and listen . This interesting conversation must end soon, or she'll keel over, at last, the bed. Next day, Tricia can figure out what to do with the rest of her life, then the aliens land, in the back yard...Three thin, green figures, come down from their small craft, Grebulons, on a reconnaissance mission, would she like to visit them, on Rupert (Persephone)? The elusive Planet X, in the solar system, that astronomers have sought for many years. The tenth planet, in this world, mighty little Pluto, has been restored to its proper place, in the cosmos ! Before departing the unexpected guests, deny kidnapping Elvis, the like him ...The greatest story of all time, slowly falls apart like everything else, these creatures, can't remember who they are, what to do , where they came from, not even their own names, their ship has computer problems. On this frozen planet, Rupert (the distant Sun, is just another remote, cold, weak light, in the sky), with structures, in a cave, that look like a set from a cheap science -fiction film. The Grebulons ( a name unknown, to these space travelers), like watching television persistently, from Earth, copying all. Tricia's camera, shall produce fuzzy pictures, back home, she will be laughed at, if the video is seen by anyone...Ford Prefect, also has no luck, the Guide is under a different management, the new editor wants Mr.Prefect to write a restaurant column, how degrading. He quickly jumps out a window of the Guide's building, on one of the top floors, having noticed that the bosses, are evil Vogons. He'll think of something going down to save his hide, Ford sincerely hopes. Passing the 17th level, his life too, goes by, in his mind. A happy robot this time, stops the descending man from a bad ending ....Meanwhile Mr. Arthur Dent's, spaceliner, crashes on a primitive planet, Lamuella, but he's still alive. The only survivor, takes up a new profession, Sandwich Maker. Adored by the natives, he is a gift from the gods, what skill with his hands , nobody here would think of putting meat, from Perfectly Normal Beasts, don't ask, and whatever else, between two pieces of bread...Arthur is finally content, a job that he is good at ... But this universe cannot let people be that, Trillian/Tricia arrives, and hands him his unknown daughter Random, and hastily leaves, a product of his, Arthur's, need for monetary funds, depositing much, in institutions, around the galaxy, that paid well, for his seed. Random hates Mr.Dent, of course, the same emotion prevails towards her mother, and is not that crazy either, with all the other universes. Mr. Arthur Dent, will now experience what being a father entails, may God have mercy on your soul...

Ryan

This book made me wonder if Douglas Adams had some marital problems in his later life, or if it was just a much more general distaste of people which bled into his writing.The prior Hitchhiker books all have, at bare-minimum, at least a cursory veneer of optimism, which has been extant to blunt and sweeten the rather stark and sometimes unapologetically bitter guts of these stories. It appears this book has omitted that particular characteristic from its makeup, though, and it has actually done so (mostly) to the benefit of its story.As to the story, it is another tale of being human while being around other humans who are not really as human as you might think they would be, and that then all trapped and wound in the fabric of comedy (the travails of the Hitchiker - a la Arthur Dent) and the possibilities of science and technology (the nearly total failure of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy ever actually solving any one of Arthur's problems, ever, at all).There is a bit of "What's the point?" about the Hitchhiker series, and this book addresses it headlong. What makes it different than other books wondering the same thing is that it makes no pretense at arriving at any sort of answer other than the boring, inevitable one: things start, things go on, things end, and if you're lucky, you will have been able to feel happy more than once along the way. Now here's the thing that makes this book honest, if a little too dour at times: eventually, nearly all the people you like in the book do shitty things to each other, no matter who it is doing the doing and no matter to whom those things are being done. Random Dent, Arthur's new/estranged daughter, is the living, breathing result of something shitty having been done - that thing being this: she was born. And, being born, it also meant that one way or another, her young life would be spent growing up.Despite the fun and jokes of the teenage years being a fairly rich fodder for comedic tension between Random and, um, just about everyone she meets, there is a very moral center to this character's presence (or at least there can be, depending whether you read only for entertainment or whether you, like me, read to immerse yourself somewhere else - somewhere where things make at least a little more sense than they seem to here, even if the events aren't any more fair there than here, and probably less so).

Phillip

I don't rate many books with a 5. I think the Hitchhiker books are brilliant in the way I believe Ron Wesley means something is brilliant that he is referring to in the Harry Potter books.Memory is a bit hazy because I am getting a little long in the tooth. But, I first heard about "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" in 1981 or 1982 when I was a freshman at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. I had a friend who enthused about it. I don't remember if he carried on about the book before or after he got his handwritten letter from Douglas Adams. Regardless, my friend had written Douglas Adams a fan letter because he had loved the book so much. And Adams responded with a handwritten response (It was at least 2 pages, maybe 3 or 4 long)because my friend's letter had been the first fan letter he had ever received.Well, I had never heard of the book, and wasn't even interested in looking at the letter because my friend was in the habit of enthusing about things that ended up leaving me disappointed.But, I did read "Hitchhikers". I thought it was Okay, and have often wondered if I didn't see what was there just because I was digging my heels in, or what. When it came out I skimmed "Restaurant". Owned a copy of the 3rd book and never read it.About 10 years ago I reread "Hitchhikers" a couple of times and was finally won over. I think it is brilliant but could not bring myself to return tot he trough for the rest of the books.A few months ago my 14-year-old borrowed my copy, wanted me to check out the rest of the books for her and she recommended that I read them. Well, what else do you do other than read the rest of the books.I will happily admit that my friend was right, I was wrong. I would eat crow if I could read the words on that letter. I know, I know...there are probably real Adams fans out there who would salivate over this story.Me, when I heard about Adams' death all of those years ago, after his phenomenal success, I was sorry that he was finished. I also thought about my friend and his great good fortune, though, I am positive he would have traded it for the great man getting to live a few more decades.

Ivonne Rovira

Sadly, the five-part Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy” ends not with a bang, but a whimper. With four storylines — displaced earthman Arthur Dent, reckless Hitchhiker’s Guide correspondent Ford Prefect; Trillian, the earth woman once named Tricia McMillan who dumped Arthur at a party to go into space with Zaphod Beeblebrox, and Tricia McMillan in a parallel universe where she stayed on earth — Mostly Harmless reads like a frenzied ride on the bumper cars, with storylines beginning and starting almost at random.In addition, Arthur Dent returns to his whiny and mostly dazed persona that made him insufferable in Life, the Universe and Everything, and while all four storylines eventually converge, the denouement simply isn’t that satisfying. Take my advice: Stop after the fourth book, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish, and end on a high note.

Kurt

I feel like the bad guy after a break-up. It's not that this book was terrible, but I gave up after reading 2/3 of it. I started my relationship with the book without a lot of trust - the reviews I've read and heard have been overwhelmingly negative, and I really disliked the previous book in the series. But I figured that maybe my friends were all wrong, and no one could appreciate the book but me, and I just needed to give it some time. And then it let me down. It's not that it did anything all that wrong - the characters were more frustrating than ever, I think there were alternate reality things happening that were on a slow burn, there were a few ill-advised action sequences, and Adams kept forgetting to make it funny, but nothing was offensively awful on its own. I just lost hope. The first two books were so wonderful, and I devoured them with giddy joy, then I had to put a little more effort into liking the third book, and it paid off, then the fourth book let me down, and finally this last book kept failing to meet even my low expectations. Maybe the last third of it is genius, and Random becomes a character I can like even a little, but I didn't see any signs of that in the pages I read, and I'm going home as a quitter. Sorry, Mostly Harmless, it's not you, it's me. Except it's you too.

John Yelverton

I've tried to like these books, but they are so silly and pompous that I just can't.

Evan Leach

The fifth and final installment in the Hitchhiker “trilogy” is generally regarded as the weakest in the series (it’s the lowest rated on this site, for example). The story is focused on Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect. Poor Arthur, who finally found happiness at the end of book four, has the love of his life whisked away from him senselessly and is back to wandering the galaxy alone. He finally settles down to a life that many would find mind-numbingly dull but that suits Arthur just fine. Just as he begins to grow accustomed to his new role in the universe, Trillian and then Ford show up to pull Arthur back into their chaotic adventures. Ford has discovered a plot that puts not just the Guide, but the universe itself at risk and, once again, a reluctant Arthur is pulled along for the ride. The book has two problems. The first is that it simply isn’t as laugh-out-loud funny as the first three Hitchhiker books. Series staples like Zaphod Beeblebrox and Marvin the Paranoid Android are nowhere to be found, and Trillian plays a relatively minor (if complicated) role. I think that part of what makes the first two books so hysterical is the interplay between all of these larger than life characters (including Ford) and the bewildered Arthur. Like a sitcom with a great cast, it’s at it’s best when all the key players are together. The comedy slips a bit in book three when the characters begin to drift apart, and by the fourth entry some of the regulars are beginning to disappear entirely. But in book four, Adams shifts the story from intergalactic mayhem to a (relatively) conventional love story. Unexpectedly sweet, the fourth book is able to alleviate the pain of losing the Zaphods of the galaxy by telling a different kind of tale.But very little is sweet about this book, which brings us to problem number two. Mostly Harmless is kind of a downer. Adams was apparently going through some personal problems when he wrote this, and described it as “a rather bleak book.” He expressed interest in writing a sixth novel to finish the series on a more upbeat note, but died before he had the opportunity. We are left with a somewhat sad ending to a great series, particularly (view spoiler)[ the grim, fatalistic conclusion (hide spoiler)]. While I begrudgingly accept that comedy is subjective and not everybody’s funnybone is tickled the same way, it’s hard for me to imagine somebody not liking the first two books in this series (even though I know these readers exist). But this one…let’s just say I can see how a reader would find Mostly Harmless to be mostly bleh.That said, it’s still Douglas Adams and I still liked the book. There are some really funny bits interspersed through all the melancholy: Colin the Android, Ford’s heroic crusade against the Guide’s expense accountants, and virtually every exchange between Ford and Arthur. It’s not the same caliber as the first two books in the series, but if you enjoyed the third and fourth books you’ll probably like this one. Readers who like happy endings may want to call it a day after book four, however. 3 stars. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Jess

After reading the book I kind of wish I had left the series at So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish instead. So Long... was deliciously funny and filled with upbeat craziness, while Mostly Harmless was pervaded by an underlying sense of unease. To be honest, the ending felt a bit like Adams just gave up, shouted "I HATE THIS TRILOGY", and wrote a page before mailing it to his editor and warning him never, ever to mention Arthur Dent or Ford Prefect again. Of course, to be fair, Adams was going through a down period in his life (as so many others have already mentioned). While not a particularly satisfying read, this book does provide some sort of closure to the series, so it's best for those who need to know the ending to everything.

Kyle

Starting off a bit too divergent in time and space, and rounding up the few remaining main characters for one last adventure, it would seem that Douglas Adam is straining to be glib about the ineffable laws of the universe. Or rather the many universes we may or may not be aware of, preferring to call it some sort of Mish Mash. Yet halfway through this novel, we can see that every sidestep and meander is in the service of a plot that is as straight and piercing as Time's arrow. Arthur Dent gets a bit of the stability that he has searched far and wide for, and then Ford Prefect shows up. Whether it was the design of some little bird, or some greater evil force in the universe, it is impressive how everything gets wrapped up, including parts of the other Hitchhiker novels that were intentionally vague and open-ended. A few things left to wonder about, such as why Ford was so puzzled to see the Pikka bird, as if they were something akin to the Mark II bird he was chasing after, and whether or not the King was from Earth, or another alien who happened upon the chance of a lifetime. If only the actual universe was anything like this.

Manzoid

If you've gotten to book 5 of the trilogy, presumably you are a fan and really dig the quirky universe that Douglas Adams has created for you. If that's so, I strongly suggest that you stop at book 4, because Mostly Harmless presents a haphazard and dismal end to all our beloved characters and to anything fun and inspiring about that universe. It will probably depress you. Personally I was just stunned at the ending, like suddenly getting smacked with a dead fish, and the scattering of enjoyable scenes and turns of phrase earlier in the book absolutely did not make up for the distressing conclusion. I have other gripes about the story's quality of craftsmanship in comparison to the earlier books in the series (which, along with everybody else, I think are great) but those nits are inconsequential beside the big dull thud of the plot wrapup.

David Waterman

The sixth and final (and perhaps my favorite) installment of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, "Mostly Harmless" mirrors the story of the first four books in that Arthur Dent, who has finally found a place that is comfortable for him, is once again ripped from his comfort zone and thrown into another harrowing situation. This isn't just Arthur's story though. The other main characters pertinent to the story at this point in the timeline are slowly and inexorably drawn towards each other although they don't realize it. What most impresses me about this book is the subtlety by which it directs all of the open-ended questions and plot points of the story steadily towards each other. The culmination of this book is so profoundly unexpected that I actually had to take time to recover from it. This final book alone makes the rest of the series worth reading.

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