Pete’s Dragon: The Lost Years by Elizabeth Rudnick Book Review
George: We’re both Pete’s Dragon fans. The 1977 film is a classic and we’ve dedicated a lot of space on Communicore Weekly discussing Passamaquoddy and the characters of the film. The new film is being released this summer and I’m not sure what to think about it. We’ve had a few books show up, including a novelization, a picture book and a book that seems like it takes place before the new movie. I think.
Jeff: Pete’s Dragon: The Lost Years chronicles how Pete gets lost and how he meets Elliott to begin with. It even gives a bit of Elliott’s back story, all relating to the new film. It starts innocently enough but to me quite pretty dark pretty quick.
George: I came into the book thinking it was related to the 1977 film. But apparently, it’s not. I get the feeling that the new movie is a re-boot, of sorts. But, the book does get pretty dark, which was surprising. When we meet Pete, he’s on a family vacation with his parents and they’re heading north. I got the feeling that Pete was about four- or five years-old. Not really sure, but I can’t imagine going through what he did when I was five. Or even more recently in my life.
Jeff: I know there is a level of suspending belief when dealing with a film about a dragon, but I just had a hard time believing Pete would be left alone in the woods for so long. Granted, when he is, he meets up with Elliot, and though the two cannot speak each other’s language they form a bond. This book shows how the two of them relate to each other and become best friends.
George: To me, the book was still too jumbly and disconcerting. Most of the chapters switch from one perspective to the other (from Pete to Elliott) and it does make the book more interesting. Honestly, the chapters from Elliott’s perspective were much more enjoyable and almost comedic. I still spent the whole book trying to connect it to the film and I just couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to.
Jeff: I agree, seeing thing from a dragon’s perspective was pretty entertaining, even if still one-dimensional. But the constant shift back and forth was jarring at times. On top of that, there was no real conflict. Pete never tries to get home, and Elliott doesn’t try to help him. They are both content to live in the woods, in their secret spot, and let the world pass them by.
George: And that’s a big issue. I’m assuming that there would have been search and rescue teams for Pete. Another part that was weird dealt with the time jumps. Sadly, we’re not talking about time travel, but the fact that the story jumps ahead a few years. The story is broken into seasons (summer, winter, etc.) and each season is a jump of a year or two (or three). I was never quite sure of his age.
Jeff: So, for reference, the first chapter in the spring is when Pete is 5 or so, the next is summer, where he is most likely 6, fall, where he is 8, and then so on. It’s super confusing, and even though the book is called Pete’s Dragon: The Lost Years, we have no real frame of reference for what went on during those intervening times, aside from the two of them avoiding the outside world.
George: Ah! See, I thought Pete was almost 12 by the end. I did not get this book. And I wanted to!
Jeff: Maybe he was! I have no idea! Much like us, this book no math good.
George: I do think that The Lost Years does have an audience, but like a few books we’ve reviewed, we’re not really the target market for it. I do wonder what a tween who has seen the 1977 Pete’s Dragon might think of the book.
Jeff: For us older, heart of stone folks, you may want to just stick to the original film, and give this book a pass.