The story centers around Hiccup and his friend Camicazi (who was introduced in the third book, but I haven’t read that one) travel to the island of the Hysterics to steal a potato from the Chieftain of the Hysterics, Norbert the Nutjob, in order to save Hiccup’s friend Fishlegs from the deadly Vorpentitis disease.
A one, if long, sentence description of a simple plot that somehow still managed to contain not only some interesting plot twists, but also an epilogue that I feel serves the book well and shows that Cressida Crowel knows what makes a good child’s book.
The epilogue was easily one of the most interesting part of the whole book. We all know how easy it is to write a terrible epilogue, or one that isn’t necessary to the story as a whole. In this case, and in the case of several of the other books in this series, the epilogue is tailored perfectly to its audience. Children are generally more interested in reading about kids perhaps a few years older than them being heroes, as such Hiccup is a perfect protagonist for a middlegrade novel. He’s older than the target audience by a few years, and he’s physically weaker than his peers, and often mocked. The kids reading this can relate to him with this, but they can also look up to him because he goes on adventures with dragons and puts his life at risk to save his friends and family. What makes the epilogue work is that it’s set years later, when Hiccup is an old Viking hero. The story of an old man wouldn’t make the best of books for younger children, but to get that glimpse of the hero that is only a few years older than them, to see that he accomplished his goal of becoming a legendary viking hero, only makes them want to read more. It helps that not only do they feel accomplished by reading the series, knowing that he will succeed, but they also want to read more to see what kind of life he goes through to become the hero that he is in the future.
All in all, a good book in a good series. I enjoy these immensely, even if I am not the intended audience. Any discerning adult can recognize quality and appreciate it. How else would Pixar be doing so well?