Bookish Discussions · Reviews

J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit:


Rating: 2 stars | Read: 4 June – 21 June, 2017

‘There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world…’

You may question why I’m writing this review a whole year after finishing The Hobbit, but I’ve only just got round to reading The Lord of the Rings. I thought it’d be nice to post the reviews together, one after another. Everyone knows the story of The Hobbit. It’s follows Bilbo Baggins, a quiet and settled hobbit from the Shire, on his adventure with thirteen dwarves and a wizard. His quest is to help the dwarves reclaim their home-land and treasure from a dragon. On his journey, he encounters many different people including the likes of elves, orcs, men and Gollum.

I expected to thoroughly enjoyed this book as the movies mean so much to me. But maybe this was why I was so disappointed with it in the end. I was constantly uninterested in the story, I hated the writing style Tolkien chose to adopt, and I felt little-to-no feelings for the characters. This endlessly frustrated me because the characters and the plot (for the most part) were the same as the films, so what was the difference? I don’t think it helped that I was in a massive reading slump when making my way through this, hence why it took me so long to read. I felt like it stopped me from enjoying the story, so I will definitely re-read it at some point.

The Hobbit is a piece of children’s fiction, and is often termed a juvenile fantasy. I think this possibly explains why I didn’t enjoy the book. I hate children’s literature.  I can never get along with the narrative and writing style. Quite rightly, Tolkien uses plain and simple language to reach that lower-aged audience, but it didn’t work with this kind of story. It’s a fantasy novel, and lacked huge amounts of detail and mature content that would have helped me imagine this world. I needed pages-upon-pages of descriptions, and I needed detailed chapters of the fights – gore and all. It just wasn’t enough. It didn’t deliver what it promised. If it hadn’t been for the movies, I would have struggled to imagine Tolkien’s narrative.

It had potential, but the genre and writing style let it down. Massively.

I also got the feeling that Tolkien shoved too much into this one book. I think it’s fair to say that the story would have been more successful (for me anyway…) if it was written as a duology. Some chapters, such as the trolls at the start, lasted for far too long compared to the more important ones, like the Battle of the Five Armies. Tolkien could have stretched out his story, making it feel less rushed. I felt like I never got the chance to breathe with it. I didn’t get a chance to make sense of everything that was going on because something new was always happening. I eventually got a little bored of reading it.

Despite this, I still enjoyed some aspects of the story. As usual, Tolkien writes such good characters and always spends time describing them. They were fleshed out. I felt like I understood them all, individually and collectively as part of a team. Tolkien spent time telling me about each of the thirteen dwarves, giving them their own character and their own voice. He also introduced a range of other interesting characters, such as Smaug the Dragon and Bard the Bowman. I was introduced to Gollum, Gandalf and Bilbo. I definitely think the characters made up for chaotic plot.

All in all, I’m glad I’ve read The Hobbit. It’s been on my TBR shelf for far too long, and I was determined to read it before LoTR. I just think if Tolkien took more time, paced his narrative out more evenly, and added more detail to his world and fights, then it would have received a much higher rating from me. I was just a little disappointed, but at least I still have the movies!

Have you read The Hobbit? What did you make of it? I’d love to know your thoughts, especially if they’re different to mine!

Thanks for reading, Lauren X


5 thoughts on “J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit:

  1. This was a great review! I’ve never read the Hobbit, but I’ve been meaning to read it for a while. I wanted to go through it before I watched the movies. Although, I’m definitely considering skipping the book altogether at this point! It sounds like the movies are much better.


      1. That’s good to know! I might try the LoTR books before I see the movies then. I can’t wait!


  2. I had such fun reading this in high school. I took some kind of advanced reading course where we often got to choose our own texts, and this was one I picked based in my Dad’s recommendation. I think the class was reading either Hamlet or Macbeth together at the time, so it was an interesting juxtaposition! 😂


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