I liked this, but I just don't see what all the fuss is about.
This was fast-paced and funny in that "something unexpected happens and it is super zany!" way, and it was a very quick read for that reason. It feels very Monty Python-esque in terms of the way the humor is handled, which can certainly be fun and was interesting in a book.
Arthur is easy to empathize with given he is the only character that seems to understand what the reader is going through--we are thrust into a universe that makes absolutely no sense to us and does not appear to follow the laws we are used to. Everything is turned on its head and every other character is insanely, grotesquely larger-than-life. Arthur is the touchstone so that we don't end up completely lost in this place, and through his voice we get to voice our own concerns over the destruction of the planet and the suddenness of the change in his life.
It's hard to take almost anything in this book seriously, and that is clearly the way it is meant to be read. I did enjoy every moment of reading it, but I'm honestly unlikely to pick up the sequels, or at least I am not in any great rush. It was a good afternoon's amusement and definitely worth the read, if only so you understand pretty much any geek culture from the last few decades. I have heard the audio book version, read by the author himself, is quite fantastic, and from the little I have heard of it I would agree, although I don't do audiobooks. It has been built up to be such a cornerstone of science fiction, though, I felt let down; I was expecting more, somehow. Had I not gone in with those expectations (or had I been a teenager, perhaps), I might have really loved this.