English second language, vocabulary limited, 13 years old and definitely didn't need nor would have appreciated grey characters. So that book was exactly what i needed.
I started reading lord of the rings at the same age but didn't like it because it was draggy and the language sounded old. It ALSO had black and white characters with the exception of BOROMIR. So i wonder whether you liked it?
Hobbit i like and liked more than the LOTRs.