The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis (2017)

Casually combining chocolate and dragons, as children’s books should.

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart follows the story of a young dragon named Aventurine who is turned into a human by a “food mage” who tricks her into drinking cursed hot chocolate. Once a human, her dragon family no longer recognizes her so she has to join human society and get an apprenticeship, which she chooses to do at a “chocolate house.”

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book to kids and even teens, but I’m not too certain if it holds up for adults.

Entertainment: 5/5

Intellect: 2/5

Overall: 7/10

3 STARS

Entertainment:

As you can see from the rankings above, this is the book’s strong suit. Once I read the blurb of the book, I was so interested in reading the rest of the book that I bought it without question. And once I started reading it, I must have finished it in only two days. So it was definitely addicting, but it’s a little hard to figure out why —  hence the reason that this section isn’t split up into “the good” and “the bad” like it normally would be.

The Voice

This is the only thing in the book that I completely disliked. The book follows a hot-headed young dragon who views herself as superior to all humans and thinks that their social norms are ridiculous. While that’s fine, I think the book messes up by making her a first person narrator. There are plenty of good jokes and cute phrases that come from Aventurine, but because she’s the one narrating the book, it sounds a bit whiny. And not in an original way. Every other paragraph is seems she’s complaining about “puny humans,” and it doesn’t come off as endearing. I think the book would have benefited from a third person narration like in Harry Potter. Third person would let the book have a better wit than that of its main character and avoid sounding excessively whiny when it talks about Aventurine’s struggles.

The Characters

I wasn’t super ecstatic about any of the characters. I won’t use the word cliche, but I’ve definitely seen all of these characters before. On top of that, no one really changed much in the story except for the main character, who changed in a pretty predictable way. I was really interested in finding out more about the younger princess, since Aventurine seemed to relate to her so much, but I was disappointed on that end.

The Plot

So you may be asking me, “If you disliked the tone and the characters so much, then why did you enjoy the book so much?” Well, I can genuinely say that I didn’t know where the plot was going most of the time. I didn’t know how Aventurine was going to solve her problems or get back home, and it really seemed like a lot of different factors in the world could have come into play. It wasn’t the kind of plot that throws you for a loop or seems genius after you’ve read it, but it was still a good story. There were definitely very satisfying parts, like when Aventurine finds out her final power at the end, or the scene where she reunites with her family. And even though the book’s voice is distracting, it is still charming and funny.

The World/Premise:

This is another part that I didn’t especially like because there wasn’t very much new content. The dragons were normal dragons, the human city was a normal fantasy human city… But I do think that the premise contributed to my liking of the book. Specifically, I think I just love reading about dragons. There’s a chance that “dragons” is the only reason I enjoyed this book, but there have definitely been dragon books in the past I haven’t liked. Which is why I want to talk about two other things that were interesting about the world.

The dragon culture is actually pretty interesting. I like how they’re intellectuals and each have a “passion” that they have to find (like Cutie Marks?). While I didn’t enjoy how overpowered the dragons were, I did think it was a nice touch that all of the younger dragons were named after gemstones, and Aventurine is an actual gemstone (get it? Because it sounds like “adventure”? And she’s adventurous? It’s a good name).

And while I thought the chocolate part was a little overdone at first… I loved the chocolate houses. I loved picturing Aventurine working in one, I loved imagining the taste of the chocolate, and I also love how it made me realize why I’ve never been a hot chocolate fan: you need more than just chocolate powder in hot water for it to taste good! It wasn’t quite enough to get a +1 for imagination invasion, but I was really fantasizing about working in one of those kitchens for a while.

Intellect:

So I was really conflicted about this section because The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart does have a message that the main character learns and that her family has to learn. It’s not a lesson I needed to learn, but I thought, “Well, maybe it’s a lesson that kids need to learn.”

And then I realized: it’s kind of the opposite. Yes, Aventurine learns to cherish her family, but her family supposedly learns that she isn’t worthless and that she can be independent. And while I know a lot of kids who want that to be a lesson their family needs to learn, I don’t know of any situations where it’s happened to anyone I know in real life.

Aventurine wants to be more adult and prove to her family that she can be good at something, and typically when I see children thinking along those lines, they’re wrong. They’re just going through a rebellious phase. In the cases where the family really is being too hard on the kid and will never approve of them not being normal, the lesson there is typically that the main character should stop caring about what the family thinks and realize their own self-worth. I have never seen an adult in real life change their mind about a kid clawing for independence: either they’re right and the kid is just being rebellious and overly dramatic, or they’re wrong and are bad parents who only respect their children when they’re doing something prestigious or impressive.

The book probably led some kids to believe that their family really just doesn’t understand them, and should let them spread their wings and fly. Or it led kids with narcissistic parents to believe that they can reconcile with them. So The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart was docked a point for this message.

Overall:

Overall, I think that The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart is a good book for kids. It was entertaining enough that I wanted to read a sequel (especially if they bring back the chocolate mage of younger princess, which seemed to be loose ends). But most adults likely won’t enjoy the book nearly as much.


Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s