Why I Didn’t Finish: How to Train Your Dragon – Cressida Cowell

Suddenly he had a strong feeling that the gods were on his side. He KNEW that this dragon was alive.
With trembling fingers, Hiccup undid the latch, took off the lid of the basket, and peered in….
Things weren’t looking so good anymore.” (page 42)

Title: How to Train Your Dragon
Written by: Cressida Cowell
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: February 1, 2003
Paperback: 213 pages

I’m too lazy to write a summary so I figured I’d steal borrow one from the author:

The hilarious exploits of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third – the smallish Viking with a longish name.” (quote taken from Cressida Cowell’s website)

Yeah, meet How to Train Your Dragon – the smallish book with a longish list of problems.

That was a lot of ‘ish’es.

At this point you’re probably ‘ishing I would stop.

Ish-pecially since these jokes couldn’t make jelly-ish laugh.

That doesn’t even make sense.

You can call me Ishmael.

Okay, okay, okay I will actually review the book now.

*clears throat*


1. I’m a wimp.

2. Toothless isn’t a Nightfurry.

3. There aren’t even Nightfurries in the book.

4. This isn’t a middle-grade book.

You are free to leave now.

The movie How to Train Your Dragon is an adorable movie – and as far off from the plot of the book as any book-based-movie I have ever seen.

This is the treatment A Wrinkle in Time needs.

The only thing similar between the two stories is that there’s a boy named Hiccup and a dragon named Toothless.

Okay, fine, there are a few other things.

The plots are so different you could watch the movie without having any spoilers for the book – and vice versa.

Unless, of course, you didn’t know that Hiccup got a pet dragon– which you know now.

But, as annoying as those facts are, that’s not why I quit reading the book.

I quit because How to Train Your Dragon is needlessly violent and crude.

It’s a book that is ridiculous to the extreme (like the Percy Jackson series. Yes: I don’t like Percy Jackson. Sue me.) – taking a story that could be serious, dark, or full of heart pounding adventure and turning it into the laughingstock of middle-grade dragon books.

Not that there’s anything actually funny to laugh at in the book.

Not only is it ridiculous but it is also full of disturbing scenes that make me question the book’s “Middle-Grade” sticker.

There are many descriptions of things the dragons do (i.e. eating people and the such) that were disgusting.

Also, a dragon describes – in vivid detail – how to de-bone a human.

Excuse me.


I did not need to know how to do that.

I am done with this book.

So, so done.

(Because I find this so disgusting I’m not going to say anymore here – but, as always, the full details are in the Caution Section.)

A few years back I completely read through How to Train Your Dragon and – like with Jurassic Park – I have no idea how. I don’t want to think that my thirteen-year-old self would have been okay with the vileness and crudeness of this book but there is no way I could have missed reading all those scenes.

It’s embarrassing to think of how callous I was when I was younger.

It’s like I was born Scrooge and am growing up to be Tiny Tim.

How to Train Your Dragon may be classified as a book for children but I wouldn’t recommend it (or the thirteen sequels, or the 48 collector cards, or the Viking-Hero themed journal) for kids or anyone else – this is a true shame, since the movie is a wonderful family film.

So, for the first time ever, I’m recommending you go watch a movie and forget about the book.

Look at that, I wrote a book review with a plot twist.

For More Information about the Book and Author Click: HERE



Violence: A boy falls from a climbing rope. The dragon bites hiccup. Dragons attack the boys. A boy gets dragon talons in his shoulder. Gobber (yes, that is his name) beats up dragons/ kills dragons with axe. Children chant “death or glory”. A dragon has flesh stuck in his teeth. Discussion of deboning humans before eating them. Dragons killing for fun, Sea Dragon swallowing ten ships in one gulp, getting eaten by a dragon, dragon’s teeth in your bottom, beating up other boys, a deer torn to pieces by dragons, and Hiccup’s Uncle wanting to “get rid” of him so Snotlout can become chief is mentioned.

Sensuality: Kiddy drawing of a naked man’s backside. Man wears a woman’s dress.

Profanity: Idiot, suffering scallops, fatso, insulting people/dragons. The Vikings swear “in Thor’s name”.

Other(alcohol): A man is known as Baggybum the Beerbelly. The whole village makes fun of Hiccup and calls him Useless. Boys steal baby dragons. Toothless says he wants to drag out another dragon’s guts and play them on a harp. Toothless poops on Hiccup. Toothless picks his nose – a lot. Betting. Characters are disrespectful.  Dragon eats a smaller one. Lots of yelling. Dragon torturing sheep before eating them. Toothless tries to eat the cat. Toothless eats a mice infestation. Toothless tries to eat Stoick’s beard. Dragons attack one another. Stoick threatens to turn his dragons into handbags. Characters lie. Toothless steals food. Hiccup tries bribing toothless. A lot of “potty talk” – pooping, bottoms, etc. Throw up, farting Berk’s national anthem, hermit crabs being born and dying in the dragon’s ears(I know this doesn’t sound disturbing but Cressida Cowell manages to make it exactly that), a dragon swallowing an entire Roman legion, and having one’s soul sucked away are mentioned.

Personal Rating: ½ out of 5 stars
Cleanness Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

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