Book: Isle of the Lost (Descendants #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy

Title: The Isle of the Lost

Author: Melissa de la Cruz

Release date: May 2015

22639095

Summary:

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that’s been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon’s eye: the key to true darkness and the villains’ only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it…who will it be?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent’s daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon’s eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen’s daughter, Evie, doesn’t know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she’s a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal’s little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he’s not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon’s eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil’s son may not be bravest, but he’s certainly clever. Carlos’s inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon’s eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon’s eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the dragon’s eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.

What I Liked:

Okay, so I fully admit to loving bad movies.  Not because of their badness, more like…in spite of it.  For instance, at one point in time, I was absolutely obsessed with High School Musical 2.  And I wasn’t a kid.  I was a fully grown adult over the legal drinking age in all countries.  So, I definitely watched Disney’s Descendants when it aired last summer.

And I’ve definitely watched it at least 5 more times since.  I don’t love it, but it’s cheesy and campy and fun.  So, though my liking for this movie hasn’t reached an obsessive level (so far), I did feel compelled to read the prequel novel, especially since it was so popular among the preteens.

I went into this book with pretty low expectations but was actually pleasantly surprised.  One thing that I preferred in the book rather than the movie, is that you get more time getting to know characters that aren’t Mal.  The movie is very firmly her story.  Evie, Jay, and Carlos all have story lines and character arcs (to a certain degree, anyway), this book really fleshes them out and makes you like them and understand them.

Evie and Carlos were already my favorite characters from the movie, but wow!  I absolutely loved them in this book.  I started out actively disliking Mal, and Jay was just kind of…whatever.  You also get to see a little bit more about the villain parents (Cruella be CRAZY!) and what life is like on the Isle of the Lost.

What I Didn’t:

Wow, does life on the Isle of the Lost suck!  In the movie, it doesn’t look great, but the kids still seem to be having fun?  Kind of?  But the details of their lives that are uncovered in this book…yikes!  The gross food, lack of resources, abuse, and neglect all made me really angry at the United States of Auradon.  What a terrible system!  I mean, I already thought that after the movie, but digging into the details was just uncomfortable.

The climax of the book is predictable.  Each of the 4 main characters has to face and conquer their greatest fears in order to complete their task blah blah blah.  And the little bits in about Prince Ben in Auradon felt a bit out of place.  Maybe just a snippet at the beginning or the end would have been fine, but we didn’t really need to follow him on a boring, useless plot thread.

Overall:

I enjoyed this book for what it was, but if I was 11- or 12-years-old, I probably would have absolutely loved this.  The characters were really the strong point of this book, allowing the readers to learn more about the characters whose names aren’t Mal.  Did you know that Carlos is an inventor?  I sure didn’t until I read this book, seeing as that is NEVER mentioned in the movie.  This was a light, easy read that was pretty much exactly what I was expecting it to be.  If you like the movie, you’ll like the book.  If you thought the movie was cheesy and stupid…maybe just move along.

Rating: 3/5 (Enjoyed, will read the sequel)

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