I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker's Guide ("A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have") and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox--the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod's girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years. (source)
I first heard about this book from my cousin when we were in high school. Some of her friends from her school were apparently obsessed with this book. I don't think that she had ever read it, but I remember her telling me how strange it was. My next encounter was my freshman year of college, when one of the friends who I made in the first few weeks of school basically forced me to watch the movie. She also was obsessed with the book (and the movie) and found them to be hilarious. I found the movie to be cheaply made and corny, but chalked my subpar experience up to the fact that I had never read the book - maybe I was missing something and it just wasn't going to be as good without having read the book.
Well, I never got around to reading the book until my book club added it to our list this month. I'm super far behind and I"m pretty sure they've all finished it by now, but I finally finished it today (grad school got in the way yet again). And I have to say, I'm not any more impressed by this book now than I was when I saw the movie 4 years ago. This could be caused by the fact that I was constantly putting it down to do schoolwork, but I think that mainly this just wasn't for me.
This book is meant to be absolutely hysterical. I will admit that some parts did indeed make me laugh. But far more of them came off as weird or that Adams was trying too hard - the humor just didn't click for me, and so, like with the movie, the whole thing came off as really corny. I think that this is definitely a cult series - if you like it, you will LOVE it, but if it doesn't work for you, it's really going to flop.
One thing that I was really impressed with was Adams' skill at predicting technological advances. Two that stand out the most to me were eReaders and touch-screen technology. The Hitchhiker's Guide that the novel is named after is an electronic book, an encyclopedia of everything in the galaxy, and because it's electronic, the reader can easily search for various topics, much as eReaders allow us to do today. Some of the computers mentioned in the book use touch-screen technology. Adams writes that they're a bit too sensitive, which, if I remember correctly, was a problem that some of the early touch-screens really did have (I was never fortunate enough to use one when they first came out, so I'm not sure about this). But anyway, the fact that Adams wrote this in 1979 and was able to describe these technologies so accurately really impressed me.
I can honestly say that this book is unlike any I've ever read. It's definitely creative and it makes an admirable attempt at humor. I would advise readers to go into this book with an open mind. It's very possible that this book will be too weird for your tastes, as it was for mine, but, as I mentioned, if it ends up being enjoyable to you, you will LOVE it. Especially if you're a sucker for corny humor.