Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Teen Review: Epic Fantasy from the beginning

The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
320 pages
Prequel to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
10 and up
Reviewed by M. K., 12th grade


It all begins in the Hill, a beautiful, happy place inhabited by hobbits, small human-like creatures with big, furry feet whose personalities matched their peaceful environment. One such hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, is visited by his friend, Gandalf the Grey. Upon the old wizard's arrival, Bilbo throws a party for him and his 13 dwarf companions, known as Thorin's Company (after their leader, Thorin Oakenshield). What starts as a harmless party suddenly changes when Gandalf and the dwarves reveal their true purpose: to journey to the Lonely Mountain to reclaim treasure being guarded by a dragon called Smaug. Though at first reluctant, Bilbo agrees to come with them for what will be the making of what I think is literature's most beloved adventure. In this coming-of-age story, Bilbo Baggins faces battles that will undoubtedly tear his innocence away, but none so fearsome as the battle with a certain magical ring...


Unlike its three famous successors (the Lord of the Rings trilogy), The Hobbit was written mostly as a children's novel, making the book far easier to read. Though this makes it sound inferior and simplistic, it's still a fantastic story with great themes. Some might even argue its childish nature actually adds an air of beauty, innocence, and magic to the story. Just reading it is an amazing adventure on its own. That's not to mention that Bilbo Baggins is a very interesting character--a cheerful, peaceful hobbit whose innocence is being taken as he is forced to change to survive. His adventurous, romantic, and clever nature make him an incredibly likeable character, especially when he uses all these traits to get himself out of certain situations. The Hobbit is one of my top five books, and is a must-read for anyone even slightly interested in fantasy. I hope that Peter Jackson's films do justice to Tolkien's classic.

My rating: 5/5

Editor's note: We are reading The Hobbit (in anticipation of the film!) in the 6+7 Book Club this month.

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