The Hobbit Review

The HobbitTitle: The Hobbit: There and Back Again

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Pages: 328

Format: Paperback

Finished: 3/31/13

Source: bought on Amazon

ISBN: 9780618150823

 

Excerpt from Goodreads:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” The hobbit-hole in question belongs to one Bilbo Baggins, an upstanding member of a “little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves.” He is, like most of his kind, well off, well fed, and best pleased when sitting by his own fire with a pipe, a glass of good beer, and a meal to look forward to. Certainly this particular hobbit is the last person one would expect to see set off on a hazardous journey; indeed, when Gandalf the Grey stops by one morning, “looking for someone to share in an adventure,” Baggins fervently wishes the wizard elsewhere. No such luck, however; soon 13 fortune-seeking dwarves have arrived on the hobbit’s doorstep in search of a burglar, and before he can even grab his hat or an umbrella, Bilbo Baggins is swept out his door and into a dangerous adventure.

The dwarves’ goal is to return to their ancestral home in the Lonely Mountains and reclaim a stolen fortune from the dragon Smaug. Along the way, they and their reluctant companion meet giant spiders, hostile elves, ravening wolves–and, most perilous of all, a subterranean creature named Gollum from whom Bilbo wins a magical ring in a riddling contest. It is from this life-or-death game in the dark that J.R.R. Tolkien’s masterwork, The Lord of the Rings, would eventually spring. ThoughThe Hobbit is lighter in tone than the trilogy that follows, it has, like Bilbo Baggins himself, unexpected iron at its core. Don’t be fooled by its fairy-tale demeanor; this is very much a story for adults, though older children will enjoy it, too. By the time Bilbo returns to his comfortable hobbit-hole, he is a different person altogether, well primed for the bigger adventures to come–and so is the reader. –Alix Wilber

Initial Thoughts:

Having never read a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, but being very well acquainted with his work through films, I was very excited to start reading The Hobbit. From the movies I knew Tolkien was a master storyteller, but it was an altogether new, different, and exciting experience to get to read the actual words he wrote.

Spoilers!

I’m definitely a fan of this kind of adventure novel, since some of my favorite books include Graceling (by Kristin Cashore) and Eragon (by Christopher Paolini). What I didn’t expect was for each chapter to feel like a short story.

I’ve been really busy with school work, so it was nice to be able to lie down in bed around one in the morning and read a single chapter of Tolkien’s work. Each chapter was a new adventure for the characters and I never felt rushed while reading. Some books carry me away, and before I know it I’ve spent the whole night reading and the whole next day at school regretting it (and to clarify that’s regretting I’m at school, not regretting having stayed up all night to read). This novel was different in the sense that I was able to put it down and still feel completely satisfied with the story I’d read, even if it was only 15 pages.

The characters were comical and brave but I never felt a deep connection to any one person in particular, but I liked that because I was able to really view the story as an outsider, which is what I think Tolkien was going for. He includes the reader in the novel, which made it feel like a personal experience and like an honest storytelling, not just me sitting alone and reading a story.

Tolkien takes his time with descriptions; however I didn’t feel like there was enough meat to this story overall. I think I set my expectations too high and was expecting an over the top, dramatic, battle and adventure that I’ve come to expect and recognize from the movies. Instead I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed. Biblo’s journey is great, and it was a nice prequel to the real story but other than that I wasn’t really moved and I was left wanting more (and yes I know that contradicts what I just said in the second paragraph…I’m still a bit confused as to how that works, but these are my feelings, I’m just going with it).

What I loved about this book and what I’ll always remember is the feeling I had while reading. As I was reading I kept thinking, wow, I’d love to read this as a bedtime story to my kids one day. This is a perfect story that parents (and no I don’t have children…someday I hope) and their kids can both enjoy.

Conclusion:

This was a light, fun read, with many moral lessons learned along the way. I enjoyed Biblo’s journey, but I don’t think I have the courage to try and read the next three Lord of the Rings books. I really loved Tolkien’s writing style but I did feel like something was missing. I didn’t find that spark that makes me fall head over heels for a book and I didn’t connect with any characters the way I typically do.

There is no denying that this is an instant classic for me, but it’s not one of my all time favorites. I’ll be saving this book to share with my kids one day, and maybe that’s the spark I was missing this time around. Maybe this book reads better with a companion.

Rating:

I loved it. four nerd glasses

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