The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien (a double audio review)
J R R Tolkien is one of those authors who fascinates me. I am amazed when authors can create a whole other world out of their imaginations and the more believable it is…. the more it blows me away. (J K Rowling does the same thing to me…. I am just in awe…)
I actually had a creative writing class in High School that was all about Tolkien. We watched the animated version of the movie, wrote reports, discussed Tolkien and I for one was in my kind of world. 😀 Tolkien soon became an author I was just fascinated with, and love the thought of he, CS Lewis and other authors meeting and discussing their books in a pub called The Rabbit Room. (For this reason I have named my own Library the Rabbit Room as it is marked over the doors to enter it.)
The Inklings was an Oxford writers’ group which included C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Hugo Dyson. From late 1933, they met on Thursday evenings at Lewis’s college rooms at Magdalen, where they would read and discuss various material, including their unfinished manuscripts. These meetings were accompanied with more informal lunchtime gatherings at various Oxford pubs which coalesced into a regular meeting held on Mondays or Tuesday lunchtimes at the Eagle and Child, in a private lounge at the back of the pub known as the ‘Rabbit Room’.
Recently when I made the decision I wanted to listen to this on audio, Heather at 30+ A Lifetime Of Books had made a similar decision at around the same time. We decided we would post our reviews at the same time and ask each other our thoughts about the audio. We both had the same narrator (gah… I feel awful, I returned my copy to the library and can not remember who the narrator was but I bet Heather knows! :razz:)
Here is what Heather asked me and my responses:
1. Was the audio what you expected it to be? Did it surprise you in any way? You know, I read this in High School Uhh…. *cough cough* that was quite a few years ago, and honestly many of the details of the story I had forgotten. When I started listening I was pleasantly surprised to find myself sitting outside the hobbit hole with Bilbo and as our narrator read on I was engulfed with memories of the book from all those years ago.
2. What did you think of the narration? I just checked my library reserve and it looks like the narrator was John Robert Reuel. I think he did a wonderful job. This is not an easy book to narrate as there are many voices and even quite a bit of singing (more on that later)
3. This was originally written as a children’s book – do you think the book would appeal most to children? Teens? Adults? I gave this question quite a bit of thought. I think children can and will still appreciate this book as they will enjoy the imagery the story put sin your mind…. hobbits, dragons, wizards – whats not to love? I also think adults can appreciate this one for the history of the story – love of a classic read, and secondly many of us grew up with these stories floating around in the background of our lives… this was our generations paranormal before paranormal was cool…. 🙂
Sadly though, I am not so sure this book/audio would bring in much interest from todays YA crowd. While an amazing work of literature by my standards, I don’t think it had the elements that the YA readers are looking for – romance, dystopia, paranormal… if I am wrong on this let me know… I would love to be wrong on this point. 🙂
4. Did you have a favorite part? Least favorite part? I have to admit when Gollum entered the narration I was excited. Usually one to feel for the under dog, I always have had a soft spot for Gollum/Smeagal…. when the voice came through my car speakers I got chills of excitement… obviously I did not like who Smeagal had become (the rings fault!) but I think in better circumstances, perhaps in another life…. Gollum could have been a lot like Dobby (HarryPotter books)
Least favorite was all the singing. I get that it is part of the story, but I have never been one for poetry so even reading song after song in the book I remember got old fast. On audio… it was just as disturbing to the point that I had to make sure my windows were up when driving through town as I really did not anyone hearing Hobbit songs coming out of my vehicle 😛
I already confessed this to Heather when we chatted at BEA this year, but at one point the songs (song after song after song) became so much while driving that I grabbed a piece of scratch paper and wrote out my own words to a song that came to mind. I will share it with you on a separate page as I do not want to take away from my thoughts on this audio and review with my crazy thinking. For inquiring minds you can find the song here:
Ok…. moving on… I enjoyed this refresher course in The Hobbit as it reminded me of the story I read so long ago. I am excited about the movie, which is really what inspired me to want to listen to the audio, and I am glad I did. Here is a link for those of you who are curious to know more about the movie. While Orlando Bloom was missing from the latest Pirates Of The Caribbean movie, he has been confirmed for The Hobbit.
Stop over to Heathers at 30+ A Lifetime of Books and see her review today of The Hbbbit and how she answered my questions.
And for giggles as I am in a very Middle earth mood, I found a Hobbit Name Generator. For the record… In Middle Earth I would be known as Ruby Hardbottle. 😉
I rented this audio from my local library