Book Reviews: How To Train Your Dragon

After watching the movie I got onto wikipedia and looked up the book series it was based on. When I saw that there were some major differences between the books and the movie I was instantly wary. I’m not a huge fan of non faithful movie adaptations of books. But since I saw the movie first, and loved it, I figured I could check out the book and keep the two of them separate in my mind.

I’m slowly developing a new theory. Who cares if the movie is different from the original? Sometimes it’s just as good, sometimes the changes are for the better. At the very least it gives me two alternate versions to enjoy. Small changes can make a movie better, and since I’ve realized I don’t like reading or watching the same story over and over, the differences keep the movie fresh and the book enjoyable.

First off you should be aware, there are characters in the movie that don’t exist in the book. The book is a Middlegrade novel, intended for younger readers, and because romance isn’t a big part of that genre Astrid is not in the book. Since the movie is targeted at not only children, but the entire family, it introduces her as a romantic interest to appeal to the older target audience. Overall I’d have to say the movie is targeted at an older audience in general compared to the book.

The book itself is quite different from the movie in several ways. Hiccup himself is pretty similar, with a few minor changes, ie/ in the movie he’s an inventor, not so much in the book. Instead of fighting a war against the dragons like they do in the movie, the vikings in the book actually have the tradition of capturing dragons and using them for hunting and war.

The book is an easy read, which is obvious, considering that it was written for children under the age of eight. Still, the plot may have been simplistic, but overall it was well written and easily understandable. The pace is incredibly fast, and the major plot can be summarized as:

  1. Hiccup gets Toothless
  2. Hiccup fails the initiation test
  3. Hiccup saves the island from a giant dragon.

Not the most extensive plot, but for a middlegrade book it worked perfectly. To be honest, even though it wasn’t exactly written with someone of my age in mind, I quite enjoyed it. It was simple, quick, and told a coherent story. That and I enjoyed learning a bit more about writing middlegrade novels. My primary aim is YA right now, but I think I want to try a middlegrade sometime.

Overall, a good book, and one that can be enjoyed by a fairly wide range of age groups. As long as you don’t consider middlegrade books beneath you. If you do, you might want to skip this one. Which would be a shame really, as it’s a good example of how good a straightforward plot can be.

If you liked my review, buy the book here: How to Train Your Dragon Book 1 (Paperback)


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