Honestly, I am not entirely sure why I ordered this off of my library. I got this book (and the next book in the series) for my nephew on his birthday. His excitement at reading a book about dragons and ill-concealed delight at the humor in it may have done the trick. I have seen the movie (of the same name) innumerable times and have absolutely loved it. Naturally, I thought the book would be pretty similar with just a few things done differently but that I would love it nonetheless.
Turns out, there were plenty of different things! I did like the fact that it was so vastly different from the movie but at the same time could not stop myself from comparing the two. If I had read the book first I may not have found it as lacking as I am doing now. I may have liked it a whole lot more.
What worked for me:
The writing style: it was easy to get into and I finished the book rather quickly. The book was quite funny at many places and I wasn’t expecting that. The book startled more than a few chuckles out of me and that is something I love in a book. There were also a few elements in the book – which didn’t make the cut for the movie – like Dragonese and the famous ‘How to Train your Dragon’ manual, to name a few. I also liked the fact that Hiccup had at least one friend – Fishlegs – whereas in the movie he’s practically friendless.
What I did not like:
The utter lack of female characters. No Astrid, no Ruffnut. Hiccup still has his mother but we get nothing from her in the entire book. The lack of substantial female characters was a huge turn off for me, especially in a middle grade book. I don’t recall reading ANYTHING about girls in that village. Am I to understand that they only have male offspring? The young, impressionable kids watching the movie got to see a totally kickass girl who was better at dragon fighting that most of her class put together. The young, impressionable kids reading the book probably thought girls don’t even exist in the universe.
Another thing I missed in the book characters was the connection with them. Toothless was cute, sure, but not enough. The Toothless in the movie made me want to hug him and pet him and fight with him and ride him and protect him from the world. And he did all those things right back at me – I mean, Hiccup. I cried a few times while watching the movie. With the book, I did not really care much about any of the characters.
Also, I like Toothless as the last-of-his-kind Night Fury and not as a tiny Common or Garden. Just saying.