Length: 362 pages
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Bilbo Baggins loves his comfortable life in his clean, artistic, and comfortable hobbit hole at Bag-End. Like other hobbits, especially of the Baggins family, he’s not adventurous nor does he care for those who find excitement in the unknown. But a part of him is also a Took, the family of hobbits who actually, in a manner considered un-hobbitlike, enjoy adventures. When the wizard Gandalf and thirteen dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield end up at his doorstep with a contract that makes him part of one of the greatest adventures of Middle-Earth, he’s inclined to refuse. The dwarves want him to journey with them to the Lonely Mountain where he is to help them, in the role of burglar no less, recover their home and their treasure of gold, silver, and jewels from Smaug, the dragon who usurped the King Under the Mountain. But Bilbo Baggins finds out that he’s more Took that Baggins after all and, although hesitant, sets off with the company of wizard and dwarves. What follows is the incredible journey that Bilbo has as he battles against enemies he’s never known, faces paths he didn’t know existed, and proves, to himself more than the others, that he’s got unbridled courage unlike anyone else.
The Hobbit is an enchanting, engrossing, and inspiring read that grabs hold on to you from the beginning and doesn’t really let go even after you’re done. Tolkien created a piece of work that is meant to stay with you for years after you’ve read it and it does not disappoint in this purpose. While it’s only been a couple of days since I completed this book, I know that I won’t be forgetting about it anytime soon, and will always consider it one of my favorite books.
Tolkien has a way with writing that is very different than most others. There is a personal touch to The Hobbit, often making you feel like he’s sitting right in front of you, telling you the story himself. He speaks to his readers through the book, giving them a peak into his own voice that you can almost hear. His manner of character development is just as unique. He doesn’t describe his characters, he lets you get to know them just as you would get to know an acquaintance before you consider him a friend. With every emotion that the characters experience, with every sentence they speak, and with every action they take, you get a glimpse into who they are. And then, you find yourself facing each emotion as they do. The Hobbit makes you laugh out loud, squirm in concern, and even tear up as you turn page after page to know what happens next.
The entire book is written mainly from the point of view of Bilbo. And yet, you know what is happening with everyone, not just the hobbit. Tolkien makes you believe in the quest of the dwarves, in the evil of the forest, in talking animals and selfish dragons, and in the power of magic of different kinds, some of which are good and others that are unspeakably bad.
The prequel to the Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit has been claimed as being a little childish and not really close to the Lord of the Rings series. While it is true that The Hobbit can be considered a children’s book, it is definitely one that even adults can enjoy. As far as comparisons go, I have read the Fellowship of the Ring years ago and although I will be revisiting the series again, I will not be comparing it to The Hobbit. The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings are connected yet different and as such, in my opinion, do not really need comparison. You can enjoy The Hobbit for what it is.
There has always been one question surrounding The Hobbit – book or movie? With the release of Desolation of Smaug less than a month away, many people would say that reading the book at this time was a silly thing to do. You know a lot of the story and will end up comparing the movie and book, with one being more disappointing that the other. However, reading The Hobbit has actually resulted in something quite the opposite in my case.
I loved The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey and have been awaiting the release of the next film in the series. And yet, I wanted to read the book since many people had complained that the movie goes way off the track that the book has laid. What I realized is this – the book is different than the movie. The characters of the movie have been portrayed, to some extent, quite differently. Then there was the addition of characters in the movie that don’t really come up in the book at all. I don’t think that The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again will be very different. They will probably deviate, in parts, from the book and add something more. But then, the movies probably need that to be appealing. The movies cater to an older audience than the book. They also cater to the people who’ve become lifelong fans of the Lord of the Rings. And in that respect, I think the movie did great. Maybe it wasn’t as good as the trilogy, maybe it was better – whatever your opinion may be, you cannot deny that the movie was brilliant nonetheless.
So why read the book?
Because you can enjoy the book independent of the movie. I loved The Hobbit for what it was. It was a brilliant story, wonderfully told and inspiring in every way. When I was reading it, I didn’t think of Thorin Oakenshield as the man portrayed by Richard Armitage or envisioned by Peter Jackson. I thought of him as Thorin Oakenshield, the dwarf who had a mission that he needed to see to the end, regardless of the consequences. To put it simply, The Hobbit pulls you in for what it is – not for the movies it led to. When you read the book, you just read the book. You don’t really think about the movie or the comparison – you enjoy it in itself, independent of the movie. So if you’ve seen the movie and are hesitant to read the book, don’t be. If you’ve never read the book or seen the movie and don’t know if it’s one you will like, take a chance. Give the book a shot and you’ll probably see that you can like it regardless of whether you loved the movie, hated it, or didn’t even see it.
In fact, I would even say that The Hobbit is near flawless. There’s nothing about the book that I didn’t like and nothing that put me off. Even the childishness adds to the charm of the book. The Hobbit is enjoyable for people of every age. It will pull you in and stay with you. One thing that most people will agree with is that The Hobbit is not really just a book – it’s an experience. And if you’re a fan of reading something incredible, something different from the ordinary, something that can inspire everyone, and love magic, adventures, or fantasy, then you will love The Hobbit too!