The Isle of the Lost

In honor of the premier of the movie Descendants on Disney Channel this past Friday, here is my review of the prequel, The Isle of the Lost.

By: Melissa De La Cruz
Published Year: 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 320

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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.

                                           First Impressions

It’s confession time. I am in my (late) 20s and I still watch the Disney channel. Granted, it’s for Girl Meets World, but still I’ll admit it. While watching Disney, I heard them say “Based on the book by Melissa De La Cruz.” Being a book nerd and a fan of De La Cruz, I rewound to see what they were talking about. This book is a companion for a Disney Channel Original Movie about the children of all of the famous Disney villains. I am a big fan of the classic Disney fairy-tales so I put this on my TBR list. I didn’t have the highest of expectations, but I thought it could be cute.

                                                           What I thought

This book wasn’t bad. I think that younger readers will enjoy it if they are already a fan of Disney. I will also admit that it does make me curious to see the movie that occurs after the story, which is Disney’s plan.

Isle of the Lost is about all of the Disney villains and their children. About 10 years prior to the beginning of the story (I think, it wasn’t super clear) all of the villains and their children were banished to the Isle of the Lost; a magic free island. Literally every villain is there, even ones that were killed were brought back from the dead to suffer on the island. At the time of the story, the children of the villains are 16. The four main characters are Mal, the daughter of Malefacent, Jay, the son of Jafar, Evie, the daughter of the Evil Queen, and Carlos, the son of Cruella De Vil. They are each trying to find how to be the best villain they can be and they all want to make their parents proud.

I get that the children all have names that start with the same letters of their parents to make the connections easier on the readers, but it seems a little lazy. The laziness continues with no explanation of the history of the children. I was a little confused because I thought it said they had been on the island for 10 years, but all of the main characters are 16. They all have only one parent, and it is never explained why that is or who their second parent could potentially be. I also find it oddly coincidental that not only are the children all the same age, but they’re the same age as Queen Belle and King Beast’s son. Also, why did the Beast stay as Beast and not back to his original name of Adam?

I don’t blame De La Cruz for these plot holes. I think that she was given what she was supposed to write and couldn’t really expand on it. Unfortunately, that lead to a story with a lot of questions that were left unanswered. I think I would’ve been more invested in the characters if they had their own backgrounds and weren’t just shadows of their parents.

This book did also take a while to get started. It seemed like it was going to go one way for the first half of the book, but then the second half was completely different. The second half was definitely predictable even though it was a little more action packed. I liked some of the general ideas of the story, but it just wasn’t done well. 

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I’m a Disney fan and I love stories that are Disney spin-offs. Unfortunately, the execution just fell short for me. It seems like this book was rushed and that De La Cruz wasn’t allowed to expand on what she was told to write. I understand that it’s a prequel to a movie, but I don’t think there is anything in here that you need to know before watching the movie. I think that this book would appeal to a younger reader because they wouldn’t be as critical of the plot holes, but it’s not great. I think if you have a young reader who loves fairy tales, I would recommend Land of Stories hands down before this one.   

I wanted to like this book, I really did. I’m a Disney fan and I love stories that are Disney spin-offs. Unfortunately, the execution just fell short for me. It seems like this book was rushed and that De La Cruz wasn’t allowed to expand on what she was told to write. I understand that it’s a prequel to a movie, but I don’t think there is anything in here that you need to know before watching the movie. I think that this book would appeal to a younger reader because they wouldn’t be as critical of the plot holes, but it’s not great. I think if you have a young reader who loves fairy tales, I would recommend Land of Stories hands down before this one.