Mostly Harmless

The Fifth Book in the Increasingly Inaccurately Named Hitchhikers Trilogy
By Douglas Adams
Anything that happens, happens.
Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
It doesn’t necessarily do it in chronological order, though.


Ah, the joys of parallel worlds.  Arthur is about to learn what exactly those joys are, and his life is about to get a lot more complicated.  If you’ve read the first four books in the Hitchhiker’s series and thought, “Gee.  These are too depressing . . .” or “Can’t Arthur catch a break?!” then you should not read this one.  And if you haven’t read the first four, stop reading this and go read them!  (Then come back, obviously.)

Adams wrote Mostly Harmless in 1992, an admittedly dark year for him.  His mood is apparent in both the plot and narration of the story.  The storyline is more depressing than past books, and Adams’s light and quippy humor, while still there, has somehow lost its shine and sincerity.  Even the characters seem unhappy and bitter about the hands they have been dealt in life.

While there’s nothing intrinsically bad about a depressing story line, Mostly Harmless is missing that special something that normally makes Adams’s books impossible to put down.  The side plots feel forced, and his humor seems stale.  For hardcore fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide trilogy, I would still recommend Mostly Harmless, because subpar Douglas Adams is better than no Douglas Adams.  But if your reading time is limited, I’d try something else first.


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