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A Reader of Fictions: Review: How to Train Your Dragon

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: How to Train Your Dragon

How to Train Your Dragon
How to Train Your Dragon, Book 1

Author: Cressida Cowell
Narrator: David Tennant
Duration: 3 hrs, 29 mins
Publisher: Hachette Childrens Books
Read: June 25-28, 2013
Source: Gifted - thanks YA Books Central!

Description from Goodreads:
Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III is a truly extraordinary Viking hero known throughout Vikingdom as "the Dragon Whisperer" ... but it wasn't always so. Travel back to the days when the mighty warrior was just a boy, the quiet and thoughtful son of the Chief of the Hairy Hooligans. Can Hiccup capture a dragon and train it without being torn limb from limb? Join the adventure as the small boy finds a better way to train his dragon and becomes a hero!

As we all know, movies often aren't much like the books they're based on, and that's incredibly true here. Now, the setting's the same: Vikings, dragons, characters and all that. However, there are a couple of major differences, based even on what I remember from the movie I saw once about three years ago. When you think of How to Train Your Dragon, I bet your first thought is something along these lines:

Certainly, I did. Awkward boy befriends adorable dragon. Cuteness abounds. Everyone learns things. Not really how it goes down, though. The actual story is definitely tailored to a little boy audience, with gross jokes, battles and such. Also, Toothless is creepy as all get out. And green.

No, seriously. Toothless is not remotely adorable. He's crude and gross, and purposely poops all over Hiccup's house. Also, he hates Hiccup for most of it, and Hiccup hates him, mostly because the Vikings actually use dragons as slaves after they DRAGONNAP them from their caves when they're babies. That's one of the tests to become a full member of the tribe. As is training the dragon to do what you say by yelling at it. Oh, AND Toothless is way smaller than in the movie. Hiccup can carry him around. If anything, Toothless reminded me of Gollum. Yeah.

Basically, I kept expecting the story to end with a realization that dragons need to be treated more equally, considering that they're smart and have their own language and everything, but that didn't really happen. Like, at the end, I think they respect dragons a little more, but still plan to make the dragons do what they say. I just didn't really feel that much sympathy with the Vikings when the HUGE dragon arrives with plans to eat them, yanno?

Also, just fyi, there was not a single female character in this story that I noticed. Not a one. Apparently the Vikings figured out a way to procreate with only men, or with dragons. Of course, I don't think that's true. Women are just so unimportant they're wholly unworthy of mention. Thanks, movie, for adding in a wholly not historically accurate female character who was in the same class as the boys. I mean, there are dragons, so are we really that big on historical accuracy?

Much as I didn't like the story, because it's just totally not for me, there is one reason I rated this three stars and did like listening to it:


WORTH IT. Oh, David Tennant. I love him as Doctor Who, of course, but now I got to hear him go full on Scottish, and I loved it. He's a delightful narrator, just as you would expect. He even did a voice that was rather reminiscent of Jeremy Irons for the giant, man-eating dragon. I just sort of tried to pay as little attention as possible to the story and to soak in the accents.


I wish I could say that I liked this enough overall to want to continue with the rest of the audiobooks he narrated (which is six or seven of the series), but I don't. As much as I love David Tennant, I would have to buy each one from Audible, and that's just too much money for books I don't like. If my library had them, well, that would be another story.

I'm sorry, but it was beautiful while it lasted.

So, there you have it. Unless you're a huge David Tennant fan (why wouldn't you be?) or totally okay with the absence of women and treatment of the dragons, you'll probably want to skip this one. However, that's sad. Let's look at David Tennant one more time, huh?

How awesome is this man?

Rating: 3/5

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Blogger Jon Pilgrim said...

Excellent review! The only way I'll be picking up this series most likely is if I get the Tennant audiobooks!
-Scott Reads It!

August 6, 2013 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

And you get to hear him be all Scottish! It's delightful.

August 6, 2013 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Jon Pilgrim said...

That is unbelievably awesome! Sadly my country has a different audiobook of this one that is not narrated by David Tennant.
-Scott Reads It!

August 6, 2013 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Can you not get stuff from Audible? I legit don't know. It's on there!

August 6, 2013 at 9:08 AM  
Blogger Natalie Natflixandbooks said...

It's a bummer the book isn't that good. To be honest, I didn't even realize the movie was based on a book. I've seen books for this series around at my library when I have to shelve books in the children's room, but I thought they were just the ones that are written after the movie (which Disney and their ilk do quite a bit). I vaguely remember the movie, but I tend to get distracted when I try to watch animated movies. Oh, well. At least you got to listen to someone you love reading it. That boy can seriously jump!

August 6, 2013 at 12:02 PM  
Blogger GillyB said...


UGH to the story though. That is tres disappointing that this seems to be one of those rare instances where the movie trumps the book.

August 6, 2013 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger Katie M. Stout said...

LOL! This review is hilarious, just for the David Tennant GIFs.

I loved this movie, but I don't think I'd like the book. Too middle school boy-ish for me, methinks. Although. I had to do a lot of research on Vikings, and women were pretty respected in their culture (for the times). They could own property and divorce their husbands (and get half the stuff!), and if their husband cheated on them, they could get their dad or brother to off him. lol Vikings get criticized a lot, but that's mostly because the people who wrote the history books were the people that the Vikings conquered...and they weren't feeling too charitable towards the Vikings at that point. Hah!

August 6, 2013 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Kristen Williams said...

Well, I love this review. David Tennant--sigh. I've not read this one and I wish I wanted to because I'd love to hear DT narrate.

August 6, 2013 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oh yeah, Disney totally does that, so the confusion makes sense. The movie's take was totally cuter. But, whatever, love him.

August 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


Yeah, the story just was so not my thing, sadly, but still WORTH IT.

August 6, 2013 at 3:04 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Isn't it? I'm pretty happy with it. I get to look at David Tennant a lot, sooooo

It was very much aimed at young boys, and I just...don't go for that. Young boy humor is not my humor. Flatulence jokes and stuff. Bleh. I can do the action, but pooping and barfing are not amusing to me.

August 6, 2013 at 3:14 PM  
Blogger Jenni @ Alluring Reads said...

Ok so I think I need to finally look into this Dr. Who stuff and figure out what all the fuss is about. I have never watched anything Dr. Who nor do I have a fucking clue who this Tennant guy is. I feel left out. Thanks for that.

Also, the movie sounds sooooooo much better than the book here, which is awesomely rare. The lack of women would really bother me and like you said, there are dragons so why not women?

August 6, 2013 at 4:49 PM  
Blogger Brandy said...

Yes! This is one of those rare instances where I feel the movie's changes were okay because they made it BETTER. My daughter really liked the series when she was 6 but she outgrew them fast.

Thanks for all the David Tennant loveliness. Sigh.

August 6, 2013 at 8:34 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awww, thanks! Sorry to spoil the fun. It's just little boys, which isn't really my thing.

August 7, 2013 at 8:44 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha, you probably should, though I don't know if you would like it. There are some amazing episodes, like Blink - you would LOVE that one - but by and large it's not my favorite.

The movie was way better imo. Women are important!

August 7, 2013 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I imagine when I was that young I would love them because dragons. Things were simpler then.

Any excuse for David Tennant gifs.

August 7, 2013 at 8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Though ehhh, don't think I'll be giving this one a try, since it doesn't seem to be very nice to women. I mean, I'm not a strong feminist but I do like to see women given equal standings as men in books. And ew. A not-cute Toothless? That ruins everything!

August 8, 2013 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Amber (Books of Amber) said...

What do you meaaaaaan, Toothless isn't adorable?! NOOOOO, my world is shattered. And they use dragons for slavery?! WHAT.

And there are no women? Ridiculous. Viking women were badasses.


I am indeed a huge fan of David Tennant, so I'll have to check out the audiobook. But thank you for the warnings. Maybe I'll just listen to Tennant's voice and not take any of the story in.

August 11, 2013 at 10:28 AM  
Blogger Lyn Kaye said...

I heard that the movie is better than the book. I might read it just so that I can say that this is true. I mean, HOW CAN YOU SCREW UP TOOTHLESS??!!

August 11, 2013 at 11:39 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


Sadly, I can't recommend it too highly. It was almost better to just zone out and let the accent roll over me. The book itself was not my thing.

August 13, 2013 at 3:46 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Nope. He's not one bit of adorable. He likes to punish Hiccup with bodily functions and just yuck. Yup, slave dragons. I AM SORRY.

NO WOMEN. Or, I don't think so. They do have weird names, so maybe some slipped in.


August 13, 2013 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


August 13, 2013 at 3:48 PM  

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