Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Fight a Dragon's Fury (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

I received a review copy of How to Fight a Dragon's Fury a few weeks before the book actually went on sale. In true spoiler sport fashion, I flipped to the back of the book and read the epilogue. I did the same thing when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out, and I'll do it in the future with other series too. I have to know if a series I have invested myself in is going to end well or if I'm going to be disappointed. I am here to tell you that the twelfth and final installment of Cressida Cowell's popular series did not disappoint.

From the time the series started in 2004, the books have been growing in length. How to Train Your Dragon was a mere 224 pages compared to the behemoth 472 pages that is How to Fight a Dragon's Fury. The main plot lines of this final book involve crowning the King of the Wilderwest (Hiccup Horrendous or Alvin the Treacherous) and a showdown between dragonkind (led by the dragon Furious) and humankind. The dragons have rebelled and believe that they must destroy humanity or risk being destroyed themselves. Only one boy, Hiccup, believes that the world is not black and white. He believes that the two races can coexist and there can be peace between the two. The problem is that he has to convince the enormous dragon Furious this. He also has to do this while being undermined and plotted against by Alvin and his mother the witch.

The writing in this book was beautiful at times and made me forget I was reading aimed at a young boy. "Love never dies [ . . . ] Once we love, we cannot forget, though the flesh hardens around the wound that once bled, though it be buried in one hundred years of chains and twisted around with cruel, growing thorns of the choking forest." I think this quote sums up the series. This is more than an adventure series about riding and fighting dragons. This is a coming of age series, and it's also a love story. Don't mistake me. It's not your traditional love story. It's about a boy whose heart was so pure that he saw the world not as it was but as it could be, as it should be. Peace. Harmony. Love.

However, as great a character as Hiccup is, my favorite character in the series grew to be Fishlegs. To reference Harry Potter, Fishlegs is the Neville of this series. He started off a pathetic, little boy whose character and our knowledge of the character grew with each book. In this final installment, he not only comes into his own, but discovers who his father is. I won't spoil it for you, but their interaction will make you proud of Fishlegs. The Epilogue at the end of the book was a nice touch, and it was written by an adult Hiccup. In it, he reflects on his life and whether or not he was a success or failure. He also explains why we cannot see dragons anymore, but assures the readers that they are still present, just hiding. Lastly, he encourages readers to make the world a better place, in case the dragons ever do come out of hiding. I'm sad to see the series end, but I appreciate the author not milking the series and dragging it out indefinitely. I'll definitely pass this series on to my son when he is old enough, and I look forward to reading it with him when the time comes!

This book was provided to me for free by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!