Sep 24, 2010

How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse

The Heroic Misadventures of Hiccup the Viking
 by Cressida Cowell

Further mishaps and glory of Hiccup the scrawny little viking. In this story, one of the young vikings is deathly ill from a poisonous dragon's bite, and only has a few hours to live. The only cure, according to Old Wrinkly (of unreliable predictions) is a strange, unknown vegetable called the potato (because potatoes are from America, which hadn't yet been discovered). Everyone laughs or shushes him when Hiccup says they must find a potato quickly, so he sets off on his own to fulfill a dangerous quest: sneak into enemy territory in the dead of night to steal a frozen potato that is one of other tribe's prize possessions. To make things worse, Hiccup has already antagonized the leader of this other viking tribe, and the sea surrounding their island is haunted by the enormous dreaded Doomfang dragon. But this time Hiccup has a new friend: in addition to his little mischievous dragon Toothless, he's got Camicazi at his side- a fierce viking girl who's an accomplished thief. Can the little team make it through all the dangers, procure the mysterious potato and make it back on time?

I liked a lot of this story, but some parts really bugged me. I found myself really enjoying the strings of imaginative insults (like "you pathetic pieces of earwig droppings!" or "you horrible halitosis haddock!") There are some really lively scenes including a mad escape sledding down a mountainside, and the most monstrously funny food fight ever (which also happens to be a battle). I kept picturing them as film scenes with 3-D animation, having the audience rolling. But on the other hand, I was a bit annoyed at the forumla I'm starting to see. Every one of these books opens with the young vikings out on a training lessons that goes wrong. The whole idea of Hiccup's tribe having already discovered America and "the feathered people" seemed kind of farfetched to me. And I was irritated that the potato was called "the Vegetable That No One Dares Name" (it being unlucky) because that constantly reminded me of Voldemort's title in the Harry Potter books (an extremely similar euphanism). There was also the deal about the arrow stuck in the potato which smacked of King Arthur's sword-in-the-stone episode. Now, I don't always mind it when an author borrows from other works, but for some reason here it really bothered me. Regardless, the story is quite lively and kept me chuckling, and the end had a twist that took me entirely by surprise.

Rating: 2/5 ........ 241 pages, 2006

More opinions at:
What to Read
A Fort Made of Books
anyone else?


Caspette said...

Still sounds cute. Might keep my eye out for it and if its on special nab it.

GOod review shame you didnt enjoy the book to much.

Bookfool said...

Hmm, maybe this kind of book is not your thing? I just read your Inkheart review -- haven't read that, but I know that feeling of being the odd person out when it comes to beloved books.

BTW, just catching up (I'm only going to leave one message) and I saw that you're expecting your second child. Exciting! My timing was similar. I had a 7-year-old when my second arrived. Just when you think you've found a little freedom (and aren't sure what to do with it), along comes number 2. :) Best wishes for a safe and healthy pregnancy!!