Adams, D. (1980). The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. New York, NY: Harmony Books.
Plot Summary: When Vorgons come to demolish Earth Ford Prefect reveals to his friend Arthur Dent that he is really an alien and he is going to hitch them a ride off of the doomed planet. The two are then expelled into space by the vogons when they are caught. They are saved by a passing spaceship that happens to be under the control of Ford’s cousin the president of the galaxy and the only other human to survive Earth’s destruction. This unlikely crew then discovers a planet that is not supposed to exist. While on this planet it is revealed that Earth is a manufactured planet. It was created by mice to discover the ultimate question that will make the ultimate answer to life the universe and everything make sense. The answer by the way is 42, unfortunately Earth was destroyed before the question could be obtained. While exploring the planet the crew is attacked by government officials trying to restore the spaceship and the president of the galaxy who kidnapped himself. The crew manages to escape and the book ends with the crew headed to the restaurant at the end of the universe.
Critical Evaluation: This book is famous for the craziness of the galaxy. The guide provides so much background information about everything the characters want to know more about. This really makes the people and places in the galaxy very vivid and gives readers a sense of how large the galaxy really is. There are many things that are of only passing importance to the plot but that readers get an extensive education on thanks to a well-placed guide entry. This is also a useful device for explaining how things work. While most of the characters know what they need to know about the galaxy Arthur is completely out of his element so he and readers learn about the galaxy through the guide. These entries also provide social comedy and other bits of humor to other wise boring or tense parts of the story. One of the reasons Ford gives Arthur the guide to look through is because it would be boring for him to just explain everything himself. There really is no part of the book that could be described as boring there is humor everywhere and the action is pretty constant there are a few slower moments on the spaceship but even then the depressed robot Marvin, the guide, or Arthur’s incompetence create humor.
Reader’s Annotation: When the Earth is destroyed to make way for a bypass Arthur Dent is saved from destruction by his friend Ford Prefect and begins the most improbable adventure through the galaxy.
Author Information: Douglas Adams was born in Cambridge. He is the creator of the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy in its many forms the story began as a BBC radio show and has also been made into a TV show, movie, computer game, and stage adaptions. He also wrote a book series about a detective named Dirk Gently and co-authored a few other books. He passed away suddenly in 2001.
Genre: Science Fiction
Curriculum Ties: This is a great example of science fiction for an English class.
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Why is Arthur Dent so obsessed with getting a cup of tea is it a commentary on the British or just a reflection of his need for something normal on his crazy adventure?
2) Do you think this book has a hero or a villain and if so who?
Reading Level & Interest Level: This book is listed on Barnes and Noble as being for readers age 14-18 which surprised me I think this is a valid age range but had been under the impression that this was a book written for adults. I checked where it was shelved in my local library and found they had four copies of this book three of which were shelved in the science fiction/fantasy section of the main library and one shelved in the young adult science fiction section. All four were checked out as were both copies of the collection of all five books published together in the ultimate hitchhikers guide to the galaxy which shows this book can circulate well in both the main collection and young adult section of the library.
Challenge Issues: I can’t think of a reason why this would challenged and this book is an established well loved classic.
Why is it included?: This is one of my favorite books ever and is a classic science fiction book that is very popular with teens. When I started this assignment this was one of the first books I thought of.