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

Ana Méndez

Buena serie! Los primeros tres me parecieron los mejores, el resto no fueron tan buenos, aunque también tuvieron lo suyo y el final del último libro no me gustó para nada. Me pareció que terminó a destiempo y de malas.Ford fue durante todos los libros mi personaje favorito. Las mejores partes de la serie en general tienen a Ford y Arthur. Este último libro es el que me pareció menos bueno que el resto. Los mejores libros de la serie son los primeros dos (o tres)Como sea, toda la serie me pareció genial, bastante divertida y fluida. Muy recomendable sobre todo para personas que disfruten del humor inglés.

Gina Denny

I'm not sure if I'm better off having read the essays by Gaiman and Adams about how these books came to be. I feel like knowing Adams' story gives me insight into why the books are uneven, but then I'm not sure if that's a really great thing to know... Whatever. These books are satire at its finest, even when the books themselves don't make a ton of sense. PARENTAL ADVISORIES (For the overall series, since I didn't do reviews for the in-between books)Sex 1/5: Vague allusions to personal relationships or to the existence of prostitutes. Language 3/5: This one was really difficult. I think there are 3 f-bombs in the entire series (five books plus a short story), and maybe five other PG-level swears throughout the whole thing. So there's very, very, very little swearing, but when one does pop up, it's kind of a bad one. Violence 2/5: It's all cartoony-spaceship kind of violence. No combat, no gore. Substance Abuses 1/5: Some social drinking, mentions of hallucinogenic drugs.

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"]>

zxvasdf

The Hitchhiker's Guide Trilogy is like looking through a magnifying glass, then a microscope, and at the end of it, an electron microscope. The scope transforms, yet a linear narrative of sorts is present. I highly doubt Adams had the ending of this "trilogy" mapped out when he started out with the first book. The ending is probably fitting, but if you're at all human, you won't like it.

John Yelverton

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

Crosly Anderson

Let me just say that 'Mostly Harmless' totally shocked me out of my chair.I read the first four books and pretty much loved the humor, storytelling and not to mention the characters.Some new characters are made in 'Mostly Harmless', and if I had to choose a favorite new character, it would be Random. Random as in her name IS LITERALLY RANDOM.The irony of the whole story made me really, really excited. The whole tale goes in a roundabout of time and space and ends up where we started.The ending was totally mind blowing. i couldn't believe it. If you read it, you'll know what I mean.Bravo, Douglas Adams!!!! You have done the improbable--to break my heart and make me sob at the end. Only very few books have manged to make me cry at the end(e.g: Artemis Fowl book 8, Sarah's Key...)Lots of irony and lots of very funny jokes, RECOMMENDED!!!And the reason why I gave it four stars?DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW?Spoiler alert..(view spoiler)[Because every single main character died at the end. (hide spoiler)]:) Even though the books over, I still go hitchhiking the universe with my trusty towel.Good luck to all you!!And remember.THE UNIVERSE IS A LOT SAFER IF YOU HAVE A TOWEL WITH YOU.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

Jon

Mostly Harmless was, for many people, a disappointing end to a fantastic series. Adams admitted that he was having a "bad year" when he wrote this book, and it shows: the usual humor and manic pacing are largely gone, replaced by long tracts about actual theoretical science (as opposed to the lunatic-inspired science that created, say, the starship Bistromath), and the tone overall is far darker and more depressive. There are still glimpses of Adams' comedic genius, but the book as a whole is a definite cog or two down the scale from the first four. While Mostly Harmless does provide a firm and definite conclusion to the Hitchhiker's Trilogy, it can, in many ways, be left off the reading list for anyone who is not a die-hard Adams fan; the average reader will get enough conclusion from So Long..., if not from Life....

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).

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.

MJ Nicholls

I read an excerpt of this in a shop last week and audibly chuckled on every half-glanced page. I felt compelled to write a few words in its defense. This beautifully melancholy book is oft-panned, and pointlessly, as Adams is at the peak of his sardonic savagery and ingenious brain wizardry in this bleak end to the trilogy of five. I love his riffing on New York and the dreamy pathos of the whole book. I must read it again.

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.

Matt

I'm a huge fan of Douglas Adams, and loved the first four books in the "trilogy". I was sorely disappointed by the fifth and final book in the series though. To me, it seemed like he was thinking "I'm sick of people whining for more Hitchhiker's books. I'll show them." The way the book ends is so...final. I understand Adams was going through a bad period when he wrote this book, and it shows. Don't bother with this one.

Andrew

This is (as other's have suggested) a darker book than previous 'Hitchiker' books but in fairness only really in the dying chapters...there is still a lot of humour within and much to be enjoyed with regard the (mis) adventures of Arthur and Ford.In reality this is also the last of the Adams books and it does feel like the end of the saga too..everything gets wrapped up ultimately and there is continuity within this book..the Eoin Colfer sixth book is one which I now approach with trepidation and I feel at this point is one I should treat as maybe a side dish using the same characters much as the non Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes canon really..nothing to be feared but ultimately unlikely to be the same.Anyhow this book seems to represent the end of the line in the original books and does close things well..after the lighter romantic tone of the last book this returns to pessimism and misfortune and the comedy arising from that.

Dan

For some reason this fifth volume is not included in most collection of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and I've only realised this recently. As with most of Adams' book, I finished the book with the feeling that I only sort of know what was going on and wasn't really sure what the point of it was but I had so much fun along the way that I didn't really care. This edition sees a new guide being created which works across all the dimensions. Queue chaos. Arthur Dent spends a great deal of time being a sandwich maker and loves it but my favourite part of the book was a space ship which got confused and lost of all it's inhabitants minds. An alien race who have no idea what there purpose was so guess is very funny. The ending of this one is really odd, it just sort of ends. It almost feels like it could have continued for a little longer and Adams had planned to write a sixth book but died before he had chance. It's a shame as there just feels like there is more to tell. All in all though, a brilliant addition to the trilogy.

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.

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