Douglas Adams is one of those authors with cult followings that I know this review will find offensive. I admit that I have never read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but I’m culturally aware of the impact he has had on pop culture and I’ll even suffer a benign chuckle when the number 42 pops up in media reference as the answer to everything. I’m aware of the influence that Adams has had, but honestly, I just don’t understand why. Yes, he is a humorous, and through my reading of the The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, I admittedly laughed a few times at Adams’ sardonic wit. However, I just couldn’t get excited for his writing style or the bizarre plot that spans time, space, and the end of the universe.
Pointedly, Adams fans will say that I must read the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in order to appreciate The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, and to them I say that the The Restaurant at the End of the Universe was a gift to me from an Adams fan, albeit it was a gift that took me 12 years to read. So, why should I have to take a step back and get backstory when an Adams friend told me to start here? I have tried many a time to read this book. It is short with big font, but it took me multiple attempts over the past 12 years to read.
What is it that detracts me from Adams? When I talk about Dostoyevsky or Garcia Marquez I often hear the complaint that the readers can’t get past the difficult Russian or Spanish names with interchanging confusing nick-names, and so on. This is the exact feeling I have with Adams. I can’t get past all of the made up names like Zaphod Beeblebrox, Zarniwop, Fintlewoodlewix, Golgafrincham, and so on. I understand that with an interstellar setting Adams must create new words that sound like they are from an alien language, but to me the words just sound plain made up and childish and this unfortunate distraction inhibited me from getting into Adams. Since the character names, places, planets, and so on sound like gibberish, the plot felt like gibberish too.