I've been a fan of Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy since a friend introduced me to the books several years ago. After joyously finishing the books, I had to have more. Fortunately, I discovered that BBC Radio 4 would be continuing the radio series to complete the rest of the adaptation of the books. Then the feature film was released and I discovered the original text-based game and Television series as well.
Suffice to say, I've experienced The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in nearly every medium it has been presented under many different working hands. So when I heard that Eoin Colfer would be writing a sixth part to the trilogy by the name of And Another Thing, I didn't feel the apprehension and concern that many of the fans of the books did.
Before I get into the review itself, I will just preface this by acknowledging the fact that I read the audio edition narrated by Simon Jones), the actor of Arthur Dent in both the radio dramas and the TV series. This certainly helped bridge the gap between Douglas Adams' style and Eoin Colfer's style in a way that only a man who has been as involved as Simon Jones has could.
The Story and Style
Throughout the first few chapters, I wasn't really paying attention much. I was just content to be spending time with these characters I loved. The direction or purpose of the book wasn't really of immediate consequence. After my giddy delirium subsided, I started to notice and even appreciate the subtleties of detail that Colfer was adding to the work. It genuinely felt like he was channeling Douglas Adams. On more than one occasion I forgot that it was even a different author. Colfer really did a spectacular job at adapting his own writing style to better fit Hitchhiker's.
At least at first. As the story continued and developed, it seemed as though Colfer was beginning to feel a bit more at ease and began to take some liberties with the style. Guide interventions became more and more frequent to explain throw-away jokes. This was not unheard of in previous Hitchhiker books, but the frequency of the story interruptions really began to be aggravating.
Another small thing that bothered me was the minor updates to the explanation of the sub-etha waveband to better fit todays description of what the internet is. I found this to be really unnecessary. It's not as if the internet wasn't around when the first books were written, and the sub-etha really didn't need any extra explanation or detail.
As I stated before, when I started the first few chapters, I was just so happy to be with my good friends Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect again. Colfer really did a great job at transitioning the characters into his book. So much so, that I often wonder how much work Adams had already spent on drafting concepts for this book.
It's obvious that Colfer starts out very strong and then unfortunately loses a bit of perspective along the way. By the end of the book, I found myself thinking of a couple people, like Trillian and Zaphod as entirely separate characters than what they had started out as. Sure, there were similarities and idioms inherent to their character, they just lost something during the story. That little bit of magic that Adams could lend to them that Colfer couldn't.
Even with the faults I hold to it, I think Eoin Colfer did the series as much justice as could be hoped for without trying to do a reboot or rewrite anything that had happened. It is a tribute work that reminds us all of the fantastic talents of Douglas Adams.
And Another Thing is a worthwhile read for those of you who crave more time with some of the characters and want some new adventures. It won't be for everyone. It's especially not for the "die-hard" fans of the books, but I have to say that I enjoyed my overall experience and I'm happy to have it in my collection of Hitchhiker mediums.