Jon Michaud for The New Yorker:
Formerly, I’d seen it as nothing more than an appetizer for the big feast of “The Lord of the Rings.” Now, I realized, it was a perfecly balanced meal of its own—one that left you feeling sated rather than gorged. A good case can be made that “The Hobbit” is a better and more satisfying read than its gargantuan successor.
The big one is a towering achievement, obviously, but Tolkien’s writing style is better contained by the much shorter book. I’ve long preferred it.