cornerofmadness (cornerofmadness) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

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Book 1 & 2

The HobbitThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Hobbit is a reread but if I’m honest it’s been about thirty years since I read it and while it was an important part of my young adult life, I wasn’t sure I wanted to reread it. That might have been a good instinct to follow. One of these stars are for nostalgia’s sake, no doubt about it. However, reading this as an adult, several issues arise that my young self would never have noticed.

Some of it is a matter of taste. I do not like the very distant narrator who retelling Bilbo’s tale several generations later. You end up feeling removed from the action. The entire end battle is dealt with in just a few pages and with little to no detail. There are thirteen dwarves but almost none have any personality or even lines. Thornin, naturally does and Balin and Bombur (whose whole screen time seems to revolve around how fat he is.) Balin is about the only decent one of the bunch, having a fondness for Bilbo and at least a little concern for him.

I had forgotten almost everything about this book except the part of Gollum which was shorter than anticipated. I had forgotten that Gandalf just appears on Bilbo’s doorstep, invites in a passel of strange dwarves and volunteers Bilbo for this journey as a burglar. Frankly, Gandalf is kind of an ass. He seems to see something in Bilbo that makes him perfect for this but Bilbo doesn’t really want to go and up until Gandalf bugs out leaving them all high and dry for another mission, he spends his time like a drill sergeant belittling Bilbo until the hobbit does what he wants.

As for Bilbo, he’s more cowardly than I remembered. He spends the first 150 pages whining. Once we get past that point, once he meets Gollum and gets the ring, then Bilbo does start to come into his own, saving the dwarves time and again. Without him, Thornin would never had made it to his hereditary kingdom and treasure now occupied by the dragon Smaug. The dwarves are even more cowardly really making Bilbo do all the grunt work. He goes from whiney to at least sympathetic.

I was surprised by how Smaug was dealt with. The dwarves use this to take the treasure and try to cheat everyone. If not for goblins, it would have had a much different. It takes a common enemy to smooth things over. Once Bilbo gets his wish and gets to go back home, it is not the homecoming he was hoping for. Do I still love this? Yes, it's a classic for a reason but I was more than a little disappointed it wasn't the shining supernova of my memory.

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Paradigm Shift, Part Three: EmergenceParadigm Shift, Part Three: Emergence by Dirk I. Tiede

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the final volume of the first story arc so that makes it rather hard to review without revealing everything. I know there is supposed to be more to this (and it looks like I'll have to follow that online for the time being at any rate since it started its life as a web comic). I definitely enjoyed the story but the pacing was a bit off in this one. Or maybe it's that the ending is far too open for me. I am not a fan of the open ending, which is more preference than a reflection of the author's talent.

It opens with another killing and Kate feeling awful and apparently contaminating the crime scene. She and Mike track down the wild animal angle while getting more info from the FBI. We get a scientific twist to the werewolf trope in this. Weird DNA, supposedly fake crime scenes and pressure from all sides leads to the big reveal.

I felt the ending was a bit rushed and definitely far too open. That said, I enjoyed the trilogy very much and will be looking for my answers on the web.

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Tags: fantasy, graphic novel, urban fantasy

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