24 August 2013

Book Review: "The Hobbit"

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Published: 1937 (original edition) / 1987 (fiftieth anniversary edition)
Synopsis: Before Harry Potter...before Star Wars...there were the fantasy works of J. R. R. Tolkien, the best-loved of which are the three Lord of the Rings books.  The Hobbit, a prequel to that everlasting trilogy, introduces the character of Bilbo Baggins, who inadvertently gets sent on a quest that changes his life forever.  This special edition contains Mr. Tolkien's artwork, along with a foreword that has reproductions of his original (hand-written!) draft of the infamous novel.
(Okay, so that synopsis didn't tell you too much, but, seriously, if you don't know the plot, either you don't care about fantasy novels, or you just came back from Mars.)

Artistic Merit

Plot: 4.5/5
The late Mr. Tolkien is still heralded as a master of fantasy, and this book proves why.  His story was definitely engrossing and quite fun to read.  That said, since Hollywood is making a trilogy of movies based on this one book, I was expecting a bit thicker of a plot; I think that's Tinseltown's fault, because this book should have been made into a standalone movie! (Do you fantasy fans agree?)

Writing: 5/5
Though not exactly plain, Mr. Tolkien's prose flows very well.  I had a basic understanding of the story before I read it, but actually reading it is much more engrossing than just hearing/seeing a quick summary.  There's a reason this book has stood the test of time.

Special Features: 4/5
The illustrations, foreword, gold cover, and such make this like a deluxe DVD.  Granted, I'm sure that there have been even better versions of this book published--I only found this thanks to my local library--but, for what it is, it's great.

Moral Content

Positive Elements: 4/5
Characters show courage and look out for one another.  The good guys and bad guys are clearly defined.

Sexual Content: 5/5

Violence: 3.5/5
Though fantasy isn't fantasy without some sort of action/violence, I didn't notice anything particularly gruesome or graphic in this book.

Language: 5/5
None that I recall.

Drugs: 4.5/5
Tobacco gets mentioned.

Other: 4/5
Some people may have problems with the usage of magic and wizardry; if you do, though, why are you reading this review?

Conclusion: Me and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien have an interesting history.  In sixth grade, we had a shortened version--that is, a stage play adaptation--of The Hobbit in our literature book, and our teacher allowed us to read it on days when we had nothing better to do.  After that, I tried more than once to read both The Fellowship of the Ring and the original Hobbit, and never got anywhere.  On Christmas Day 2001, I tried watching the first LOTR movie, and found it to be too long and drawn-out.  (Looking back, I think seeing it in the theater was a mistake; I should have watched it in multiple sittings.) For years, I wanted nothing to do with the series...but, more recently, I decided to give it a second chance.  Now that I have done so, I have to say I was missing out; however, I don't think I would have appreciated this book when I was younger like I did while reading it this week.  As I said: Fantasy fans, if you haven't read it...go do so!

Score: 4.75/5

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