Book: The Hobbit
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
Series: Standalone/Middle-Earth Universe
Genre: High Fantasy/Middle Earth
My Rating: 2/5 Stars
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
The Hobbit, a well-known and beloved middle grade fantasy adventure from the 30’s, finally found itself in my possession. Not by choice of course, as this was a read I had to pick up for a class, and not with much joy either as it took me a month to read. This book was a struggle, a slow-paced struggle, as I added annotation, marginalia, and what looks like a thousand sticky note flags, all for the sake of analyzing Bilbo’s character. All I can say now is that any other prof who adds The Hobbit to their course reading list, I’m beyond ready.
This adventure story follows Bilbo Baggins, a respectable hobbit due to his lack of adventures. But that all changes when Gandalf chooses him to be the official burglar for a group of dwarves desperate to travel to the Lonely Mountain and take back the valued treasure that once belonged to them from the dragon, Smaug the Magnificent. Bilbo, left with no choice but to tag along and accept his new role, finds himself in dangerous, thrilling, and life-threatening events that have the power to change him forever.
“To the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, a walking-stick… leaving his second breakfast half-finished.”
I want to start with the writing style first, because it took a toll on my reading experience. Obviously The Hobbit is not from my time and it was written for children, so it’s to be expected that I had some issues regarding the writing. One thing being that it breaks the fourth wall multiple times throughout the book, taking me completely off guard and out of the story every time.
“I imagine you know the answer, of course, or can guess it as easy as winking, since you are sitting comfortably at home and have not the danger of being eaten to disturb your thinking.”
We are acknowledged as human readers, inserted into the story about hobbits and dwarves. I understand this may be the case since it’s written for a younger audience, but to me it was just strange.
Then there was:
“It was not very long before he discovered: but that belongs to the next chapter and the beginning of another adventure in which the hobbit again showed his usefulness.”
When I say foreshadowing Tolkien, that’s not what I mean.
The writing even did a weird switch up where the point of view would leave Bilbo’s head and an outside narrator would say something that Bilbo didn’t know:
“The truth was he had been lying quiet, out of sight and out of mind, in a very dark corner for a long while.”
Besides all that there were run on sentences, time jumps, little detail, telling instead of showing (they did this, then this, then this…). I can go on, but I think my point is made.
Regarding the dwarves, I honestly thought that the majority of the adventure party was useless. There were a handful of dwarves we could acknowledge past their name, but the rest were just background characters with little to no use. If the party was cut in half nothing would have changed besides Bilbo having to rescue less dwarves.
Reading through The Hobbit I realized that the adventures were epic but I didn’t enjoy them because of the way they were executed. There were so many trials throughout the book, but they were really disconnected from each other. It was a list, like many little adventures in the big adventure. It didn’t flow and it seemed to be repeating itself. It was like finishing a book and moving on to the next book when one trial ended and the other began. And let me tell you, it was long. Just like Bilbo’s journey and how he was happy to finally go home at the end, it was like I was finally set free from my own agonizing adventure when I read the final page.
We were thrusted into action that had no action. Just playing off the fact that Bilbo is a very lucky character, it seemed to be the card he played all throughout the book, so nothing exciting happened. It was too easy for him with that blasted ring.
Don’t even get me started on the battle of the five armies. What did Bilbo do during the battle? Nothing. Was there an epic showdown between Bilbo and Smaug, you know the reason Bilbo was dragged along in the first place? Nope. Smaug became someone else’s problem.
I don’t understand the hype. I don’t understand how this is considered the be all and end all of fantasy.
But I can’t factor out the small things that I actually enjoyed.
I flagged so many quotes throughout the book where the dwarves were not being fair to Bilbo, not appreciating what he did for them. Just the never-ending complaints toward him. So when Bilbo finally stood up for himself, I was wiping tears and clapping my hands.
“Well are you alive or dead?” asked Bilbo quite crossly…“Are you still in prison, or are you free? If you want food, and if you want to go on with this silly journey – it’s yours after all and not mine – you had better slap your arms and rub your legs and try and help me get the others out while there is a chance!”
Then of course there had to be a line thrown in there that actually gave me feels. That actually made me reminisce on this long adventure I took part in.
“And turning towards the Mountain he added: Farewell Thorin Oakenshield! And Fili and Kili! May your memory never fade!”