Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell


THE STORY BEGINS in the first volume of Hiccup's How to Train Your Dragon memoirs...

Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was an awesome sword-fighter, a dragon-whisperer and the greatest Viking Hero who ever lived. But it wasn't always like that. In fact, in the beginning, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III was the most put upon Viking you'd ever seen. Not loud enough to make himself heard at dinner with his father, Stoick the Vast; not hard enough to beat his chief rival, Snotlout, at Bashyball, the number one school sport and CERTAINLY not stupid enough to go into a cave full of dragons to find a pet... It's time for Hiccup to learn how to be a Hero.

I genuinely looked forward to reading this. It was sent to me in advance of the movie and for ages I kept not reading it thinking I'd like to see the movie and then read the book.

In the end, I've not yet seen the movie, but I have read the book and I don't know what's wrong with me, but I genuinely didn't enjoy it.

I liked the main character quite a bit, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third. Funny, spunky little kid, destined to be bullied by everyone else in their clan, he didn't seem much of a hero. But he does reveal his hero-spirit in the end, which is pretty cool.

What I had a problem with was the other characters in the book, specifically their names, which were all clearly chosen to be tongue in cheek and funny. But I didn't find it amusing, at all. Who and what they are as characters, should have been indicated by their actions and not by throwing truly odd names at the reader. I also didn't find the story plausible - I know, I am crazy! I've been dithering about writing this review but thought that I really should for my own sanity. I realise it has been massively popular and I love that kids are reading these and loving it. If it encourages them to continue reading the rest of the books and gradually move on to others, then by all means, that's an excellent thing.

Sadly I just think that me and How to Train Your Dragon just did not get along. And I wish it wasn't so. I know that I should really like this book, but it's just not happening. I couldn't even finish it, not feeling that spark at all. Although, having said that, I came as close as page 210 out of 223. I just didn't care enough for that final small push. I do however promise to read it again soon and finish it. Maybe I was expecting something else altogether - I think a re-read will set me right, but in the meantime, feel free to set me right in the comments!


asamum said...

Sorry to hear this one wasnt for you. My 10 year old just loves this series of books. She has read them all a few times. We have yet to see the movie as well :D
I just love how subjective reading is :D

Linda said...

The trouble with reviewing is that you feel you should read books that you might not, otherwise, pick off a bookshelf. Or at least, that's how I feel! Personally, I like Hiccup: there's a glorious insouciance about the humour, which is silly and obvious and means you to know it! Have you listened to small boys cracking what they believe to be funny jokes? So - don''t feel bad if you don't have that kind of quirky mind. We all have books we can't stand despite their bestseller status - I for one was unable to finish 'Twilight', which for someone who would read a cereal packet if nothing else presented itself, is quite something!

Woodge said...

You might not be the target audience for this book, Liz. My 8-year-old son LOVES this series. He's read through six of them so far and re-read #3 (his favorite). He stayed up late to read these and giggled during the funny parts. Anything that has my 8yo boy voraciously reading can't be bad.

Kaethe said...

I didn't like it either, and quit a lot earlier than you did. Sometimes even a book that seems like it would be "me" just isn't.

Clover said...

I took my boys to see the film the other day in one of those cheap-o showings for children. They both LOVED it.

Hailey said...

It was a great movie but the books didn't catch my attention too much. There were poits of times were i smiled at this or giggled at that, but very few.