Cressida Cowell – How to Train Your Dragon
Read By: Gerard Doyle, who apparently is the go-to guy for mid-grade fantasy Viking novels.
Length: 4h 23m (214 pages)
Genre: Mid-grade Historical Fantasy
Started: 02 May 2011
Finished: 05 May 2011
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I loved the movie and wanted to read the source material.
It’s hard to be tough
when you’re named “Hiccup”, but brains
are more use than brawn.
Summary: Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III may be the son of the great Viking chieftain Stoick the Vast, but he’s not exactly your typical hero. He’s short, scrawny, and on the raid on the dragon cave that marks the start of the Viking initiation ceremony, the dragon that Hiccup brings back is the tiniest, least-scary dragon that anyone’s ever seen… and it doesn’t even have any teeth! But when the Vikings of Berk are faced with an enormous, ancient sea-dragon that has taken up residence on the beach, their normal heroing tactics aren’t working, and Hiccup and Toothless might just prove themselves useful yet.
Review: I’ll be honest: I read this book because I really liked the movie. So I was pretty surprised to discover that really the only similarities between them were a) the names, b) Hiccup’s un-Viking-like nature, and c) the really big dragon at the end. And I was really, really surprised when I realized that in the book, the dragons are a) dog-sized or smaller, b) essentially working animals, not pests, and c) capable of speech.
That last points was one of my main sticking points; Toothless is not only capable of speech, but he rarely shuts up, and oh my goodness is he the worst whiney, bratty toddler I can imagine. Movie Toothless is a lot more personable, for all that he’s essentially a giant cat.
The story itself is cute if rather predictable, and while the book has a fair amount of juvenile humor aimed at its target audience of mid-grade boys, there are a fair number of funny moments that work for older readers as well. Overall, it was a quick and entertaining read, if not anything I’m particularly raving about. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: As mid-grade fantasy goes, it’s well-written and enjoyable for older readers as well… but I think I prefer the movie’s take on the basic storyline.
First Line: There were dragons when I was a boy.
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