Don’t get me wrong. I like Tenacious D. Their self-titled first album was practically the soundtrack to my first year of college (much to the regret of my roommate). If you called “Tribute” the greatest song in the world without irony in your voice, I wouldn’t punch you in the face. I once ate at Zanzibar in Las Vegas solely for the purpose of eating there while thinking of this song (link NSFW . . . trust me, don’t do it). My point is: hating Tenacious D: not the point. Too many colons.
The point? Tenacious D doesn’t belong anywhere near a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book, let alone resting comfortably inside one as its epigraph (the thing that hints at the entire point of the book). And the fact that Tenacious D is in fact in a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy book is just a microcosm of all the problems that come part and parcel with this book. This book should never have been written.
I’m not a die-hard Douglas Adams fan or anything. I’ve only read all the Hitchhiker books a couple times each, and if I’m being honest, despite my having tagged this post “author rolling in grave,” I’m pretty sure Mr. Adams would have been pretty cool about it. He was a nifty guy who didn’t seem like he gave many fucks. No, what makes me mad about stuff like this isn’t that it exists, but that it so often completely misses the point. This book was never going to be satisfying because — at least for me — the best part of the Hitchhiker’s Guide books was never the plot or the characters, resurrected so flimsily here. The best part of these books was Douglas Adams, and he’s dead, so.
If I was reading this book on its own, I don’t think I would have cared for it much either, but it wouldn’t have been a one star endeavor. I do, after all, like Mr. Colfer as an author (I loved the first three Artemis Fowl books when I read them as a pre-pubescent — the others I read later and had less of an effect on me). And I suppose if I was being generous, I would say that Colfer does an okay job at concocting a story laced with absurdity with the occasional witty repartee. Some of his lines, again if I’d been in a better headspace, might even be considered objectively hilarious.
This was not a stand-alone book. It was a continuation of a beloved series with a very specific authorial voice, with a legion of fans who can easily tell the difference between the real thing and this pale imitation. The closest he comes is this line, and even then there’s just something . . . off:
“There is no such thing as a happy ending. Every culture has a maxim that makes this point, while nowhere in the Universe is there a single gravestone that reads ‘He Loved Everything About His Life, Especially the Dying Bit at the End’.”
More often it’s like this (somewhat funny, mostly trying too hard, not really clever at all):
“As a child, Zaphod had been diagnosed with ADHDDAAADHD (ntm) ABT which stood for Always Dreaming His Dopey Days Away, Also Attention Deficit Hyperflactulance Disorder (not to mention) A Bit Thick.”
Or this (a bit too crass, again, not clever or inspired):
“I wear a name tag to help people find me. It saves time when you’re dealing with idiots.”
None of these examples explain why I had such an intense reaction to this book, not even to myself. Why it rubbed me so raw every time Colfer brought back a joke Adams had already used, or a character he’d already done with. Why I had to force myself to continue reading, and then eventually, speed-read the remaining pages so as to lessen my agony. Maybe I was just in a really bad mood. Maybe I was in an okay mood and the book put me in a bad mood. I don’t know. It’s a mystery.
One thing I do know for sure is that it’s bad enough And Another Thing . . . turned out to be such a poor imitation, but I am hella pissed that Colfer wrote this story and didn’t even bring back Fenchurch. The main plot of the book also happened to be overstuffed (about a hundred pages too long) and completely inconsequential. If you’re going to bring back a beloved series, BRING IT BACK. And this was mostly about gods fighting each other and stuff? Honestly, I don’t even know anymore. I’m officially ending this review before things get even worse. I don’t know what I will say if I continue.