Not finishing a book can feel tantamount to failure. The sensation creeps up on you, a bubbling of disappointment as you realise the story in front of you is unreadable, a lost cause. A few years ago I had a rule; always finish a book. This was never too much of a problem as a light reader but as my reading habits intensified I hit a wall; The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño. This search for a Mexican poet was so removed from me that I barely understood what was going on and needless to say I gave up – and the sense of defeat is still ever present. Now, since The Savage Detectives, there have been a few books I just couldn’t bear to finish however, rather than struggling through I put them aside. At least the local Charity shop can benefit from my disappointments.
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again by J. R. R. Tolkien is one such charity donation. I tried my best to finish it, but good god what a boring book! I was fairly excited when I first picked it up, wanting to prepare for film adaptation’s 2012 release however, if the film is anything like the book I will probably end up sleeping through it.
Set in a time “Between the Dawn of Færie and the Dominion of Men”, The Hobbit follows the quest of home-loving Hobbit Bilbo Baggins to win a share of the treasure guarded by the dragon, Smaug.
– Source, Wiki
I found Tolken’s writing style monotonous, an adventure story is meant to keep you gripped but other than Bilbo’s meeting with Gollum I felt no sense of excitement or danger. For the most part I wanted to reach in and smack Gandalf, who from now on I shall think of as Gandalf the Grumpy or Gandalf the Arrogant rather than his given Gandalf the Grey.
Alongside it being a lacklustre read The Hobbit’s utter deficiency of any female protagonist vexed me. I am not saying that a female character would have improved the book, I have already stated that I am at odds with Tolkien’s writing style; I just would have enjoyed an interesting female character alongside Bilbo and his companions. While I realise this lack of female presence is a product of the time in which it was written, I am huffy all the same.
I would never like to tell anyone not to read a book, we all read differently, so I will make the following recommendation: If you enjoy a slow paced boys adventure I would thoroughly recommend The Hobbit.
Image from To The Cleod