02 November 2009

Book of the Week (36): "And Another Thing... (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Part Six of Three)" by Eoin Colfer

I want to divide this review into two questions: is it a good read and is the book Wrong? Some things are just Wrong. The pub food staple Lasagne-with-chips is a good example. It’s very enjoyable, but clearly as a gastronomic combination it is Wrong. Similarly, having somebody other than the late Douglas Adams writing a Hitchhiker book is Wrong. It is not quite as Wrong as the new Winnie the Pooh book, but nevertheless it is Wrong.

If you can come to terms with its Wrongness, it is a jolly enjoyable book. Colfer slips effortlessly into the Hitchhiker style, and is at ease writing that Ford spoke “in a voice so superior it would have caused single-cell life forms to accelerate their evolution so that they could use their fab new opposable thumbs to pick up a rock and beat him to death”.

It is not as good as the best of the previous five books in the trilogy (the first one, obviously) but it is certainly better than the worst. The one part of the style he cannot match is Adams’s extraordinary ideas. He has nothing in the same league as the infinite improbability drive, the restaurant at the end of the universe or even the Somebody Else’s Problem invisibility device. The quality of the writing will come as no surprise to anybody who has read Artemis Fowl, so the question I am left with is whether I would have enjoyed a new volume from Colfer aimed at slightly older audiences featuring new characters any more than I enjoyed this book. At least it wouldn’t have been Wrong.

Recommended by Anthony Reuben

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