Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Hobbit Book Review + RMQ!

The Hobbit Book Review

So I've told this story several times but I'm going to tell it again. Briefly. Deal with it. I picked up The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien when I was about twelve years old. I'd only discovered my love for fantasy about a year earlier (upon reading Lloyd Alexander's The Black Cauldron) and wanted to read it. To my father's great delight (he's a lifetime Tolkien fan) I began reading. And I really enjoyed it. But it took me awhile to get through it. (It was probably the hardest book I read up to that point in my life.) And then something happened. I don't remember what. Probably just the end of the quarter (remember having those in grade school?) or something where I had a lot to do and couldn't finish the book. Eventually (after several renewals) I had to take it back to the school library. I was fine with it, figuring I'd just check it out again later when I had more time....Yeah, I never did. Fifteen years later, I still hadn't finished it.

What's worse? I read pretty much everything except the end where they defeat Smaug. Pathetic, I know. I've always wanted to go back and finish, but I'm sure most of my fellow book bloggers and lovers know all about trying to read a book for years and just not getting around to it. Right? (Please agree with me!)

Anyway, with the Peter Jackson film on it's way, I finally took the time to read the book. (Whew! Sounds like a trans-generational western saga, doesn't it?)

So, on to the book! Since I already knew most of the story (and based on the six-book Lord of the Rings sequel, I figured it was a safe bet they'd beat Smaug. If that's too much of a spoiler for you, you obviously don't know much about high fantasy novels and haven't seen the LOTR movies. Just sayin.') I didn't have much to discover. Still, it was fun to read because I'd forgotten a lot of nuances. Also, having seen the trailers for the film it was fun to read some of the dwarf-songs they sing in the commercials. Kinda gave me chills, actually.

A word on the writing: the day I started The Hobbit I found a review of it by a fellow blogger. She said she didn't like it because the writing was dense and the narrative rambled a lot. Unfortunately, she was correct. There are a few things you ought to understand before picking up this book.

1) This book was written for children (of the fifties, no less!) so its tone is much different than the LOTR trilogy.

2) Treat this like a classic. Just as the writings of Dickens and Tolstoy and Melville were written for an audience that spoke much differently than we do, Tolkien's writing style is a bit outdated. No, it probably wouldn't be published today, but that's been said of everything from Shakespeare to Harper Lee to Dr. Seuss. It doesn't mean the story isn't worth reading, just that the writing takes some getting used to.

3) Tolkien was not a writer, believe it or not. Or at least, that's not primarily what he was. He was first and foremost a linguist. He actually created his own language (elvish) and wrote a story around it. Now, he happened to have written one of the best stories of all time (my humble opinion of course) but story-telling was not his primary craft. Because of that, there are parts of his books that horrify even the most lax English professors, and which any editor worth their salt would gleefully take a red pen to. Just keep that in mind.

Overall, if you can get past the dense narrative and Old English phrases (faggots for the fire anyone?) this is a fun, light-hearted, adventurous story that serves as a prophetic prequel to Frodo's adventures fifty years later. If you're a Tolkien fan, you won't be able to help but love it! :D

Watch the trailer. Just 'cuz:

P.S. I received a related email over the weekend and have duplicated it in part for your information:
"My name is Kay and I work with Thriftbooks, a secondhand book vendor. After looking around Picture Me Reading, I wanted to send you a link that might be of interest to your readers, given the upcoming Hobbit premiere. We are currently offering the Lord of the Rings trilogy for under nine dollars with free shipping. The link to the bargain is here: http://www.thriftbooks.com/deals.aspx. If you think this information would be useful for your readers, please feel free to post the link on your blog."

Random Movie Quotes (RMQ!)

Don't know what this is? Click on the tab at top of page.

"Excuse me Violent Sky Marshal. I have to squeeze the lemon. You heard me...squeeze the lemon." This was said by Steve Carell in the hilarious film, Get Smart. No one guessed this one.

Today's RMQ is:

"Here? Lousy. So far I'm more affected than she is. I damn near cried twice!"

Who said it? One point for character, one for actor, one for film. Good luck and Happy Tuesday! :D


  1. Don't know that one either.
    I meant to re-read The Hobbit before the movie was released but didn't have time.

  2. I know the feeling of leaving a book unfinished for a while ;-) Mists of Avalon has been a project for several years now! Thanks for joining in the review hop this week :D My review for the week was Web of Lies , and don't forget to link back to the hop when you get a chance ;-)

  3. I read The Hobbit as a teen but never did go back and re-read it. I did read LOTR several times. I agree that the language is dense, but the story is a lot more fun than LOTR (was for me anyway) so you're right - it was a children's book way back when.