06 June 2010

Book Review: The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

It is a well-known fact that I rarely read fantasy. Just look at the list of books I have reviewed on the right side corner of this blog and you'll see the types of books that I typically read.

That being said, I also acknowledge the literary value of fantasy, and of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So, in order to give this genre a chance, and also due to the fact that I just discovered a chest full of books in the parents' house, I decided to start reading this series while I am here. This way, I don't have to go to a bookstore and buy a new book: I can just borrow this and read away.

I remember my sister reading this when the movies came out. I just didn't bother reading them, due to the fact that I don't like fantasy that much, and also due to the fact that everybody was reading them, and I didn't like to read something just because everybody was reading them. So, a few years later would be safe right?

So I picked this up as a start, and I figured that if I like it, I'll go to the main trilogy. And wow, this is an interesting read.

I suppose it would be a moot endeavor to try summarizing the whole story here. But in short, this is about the adventure of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, together with a bunch of dwarves, and a wizard by the name of Gandalf. I have to admit that my reading experience was deeply affected by my memories of watching the three movies. So instead of creating an image of a hobbit in my head, or a goblin, or a wizard, I just retrieved images of those in my memory and mapped the present narrative to those memories.

Anyway, I find that fantasy packs a lot of physical action. No psychological thrillers here. Conflicts are physical in nature, about gaining treasure, about killing a dragon, about escaping giant spiders. And that is well and good, nothing wrong with that. I guess it's just not my preferred mode of reading. But hey, a little bit of everything is a good thing, right?

So is there something that I do not like in this book? I guess it is the sense that I get from reading it, that the writer seemed to have written this book for a youngster. Reading it felt like there was this adult reading to me a bedtime story of some sort. I mean, I am not dumb, I know the repercussions of certain actions, so why spell it out in the open? I can connect things, I have a thinking mind, and yet the book seemed to be written for someone who needed some extra mental help. But hey, if the book was indeed a children's book, then sure, this style is acceptable.

Overall, I enjoyed it, enjoyed it enough to read the trilogy. But if not for its literary and cultural value, I would not even attempt to read it. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

(Orange Building, from my Bogotá, Colombia Series)

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