Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Hobbit: A Book Review

This book review contains NO SPOILERS. Enjoy! (:

I am overwhelmed with excitement to write today's book review, because it is a book I read over a decade ago when I was in the sixth grade. I was anxiously awaiting the release of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and my sixth grade teacher, who saw my impatience, lent me her copy of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and told me to read it and I'm forever grateful she introduced this book into my life. I'm ashamed to say that in relinquishing the copy of The Hobbit back to its owner, I never sought out to get my own copy and, frankly, I don't know what took me so long to finally pick it up and reread it. Books like The Hobbit lead me to years of writing amateur adventure stories and drawing maps of uncharted, imaginary lands, similar, but less sophisticated, than the ones Tolkien offers.

(photographed: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit)

For those of you unfamiliar with The Hobbit, here is the back cover description of J.R.R. Tolkien's amazing prequel to the Lord of The Rings trilogy:

"Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo was drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse, unknown dangers. Finally, it was Bilbo- alone and unaided- who had to confront the great dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside."

I'm sad to say that I never finished The Lord of the Rings trilogy, though I did love the movies and have re-watched them at least a dozen times. I've only finished the The Fellowship of the Ring, and even that was a minimum of 8 years ago. But I after rereading The Hobbit and remembering how Tolkien is such an elegant, imaginative writer, I will definitely reread The Fellowship of the Ring and the rest the trilogy as well.

This book brings me straight back to my sixth grade classroom and I'm filled with childhood giddiness as I read it. It's an absolutely amazing feeling. Though I love reading, not many of those books reliably revert me to my childhood (Harry Potter being one of them), so I find it special that this book does that for me. 

Now, enough with the introductions. I actually want to spend some time talking about how this novel stands alone. What makes this novel different from what I remember of The Fellowship of the Ring is how it can really stand alone as it's own fantasy/adventure novel. It's a fairly simple story, and a very charming one at that. I can see why my sixth grade teacher thought it was appropriate for a sixth grader. Though I keep saying how the story is simple. the world Tolkien creates is rich and complex. The two work together to make a story that is fun and light but not too light that it's easily forgettable. And even in its lightness, we get contrasting scenes of darkness, especially in the introduction of the infamous Gollum.

Other than the magical nature of Bilbo's adventures, my second favorite aspect of The Hobbit is probably the narration. The voice is funny and full of character. It introduces the readers into its world and explains to us what new concepts are as we go.

When I open the pages of The Hobbit, I enter this world where all of my adult worries and fears wash away and all I want is to follow Biblo along his journey. I laugh, and I cry. Okay, so maybe I don't cry. Or if I do it's just because this book fills me with so much cheer and childhood excitement I cry tears of joy.

The Hobbit has officially joined my all-time favorite books list and I am even more excited for the release of the film! (:

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