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The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel

Review

The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel

One of the wonderful things about fairy tales is how well they lend themselves to changes, adaptations and reinventions. For decades, Disney has taken fairy tales and traditional folktales and rewritten them for new audiences. Something very interesting is starting to happen now; the expansion and further adaptation of those Disney versions by Disney itself. Adding to this category, bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz has penned THE ISLE OF THE LOST, part of The Descendants series, which follows the lives and adventures of four teenage children of infamous Disney villains. Skeptics will be pleased to find that the book is an enjoyable story that bridges the gap between children's lit and YA book by giving middle grade readers characters both new and familiar facing some universal challenges in a fantastical world.
 
Carlos, son of Cruella De Vil, is a clever science geek who is forced to babysit his mother's precious fur coats. Jay is the charming and thieving son of Jafar. Evie, daughter of Evil Queen, has been isolated at home for about 10 years and is finally attending school and socializing with her peers. And Maleficent's daughter Mal hopes to be just as powerful as her mother, the ruler of the Isle of the Lost. 
 
The premise --- the coming-of-age of a second generation of bad guys --- is a compelling one, the writing is smooth and the characters interesting.
 
The teenagers, their parents and their neighbors were all banished to the island by King Beast, king of Auradon, and imprisoned there without magic. The Isle of the Lost grew into a mean and dirty place where the food is always rotten and no one can ever be trusted. Evie's return to the island's public life, after being scared off by Maleficent years earlier, brings up a lot of painful memories for Mal who hopes to exact her revenge by humiliating Evie. But when Maleficent's magical scepter, the Dragon's Eye, is said to be coming back to life and Carlos thinks the dome keeping them on the island may be weakening, Mal finds herself teaming up with her nemesis Evie, as well as Carlos and Jay to find the Dragon's Eye and investigate whether magic is returning to the Isle of the Lost. All four are torn between a budding sense of friendship and adventure and the loyalty they owe their parents as they set out to find the scepter. 
 
With a quartet of wicked parents to contend with, not to mention an enchanted fortress guarded by goblins and protected by riddles, the foursome must be brave and true, working together to find the Dragon's Eye and return safely home. All the while, back in Auradon, Ben, the son of King Beast, is preparing to take over his father's throne but not having much luck learning to manage his subjects. Will his new ideas about fairness change the future of the kingdom? Is he destined to marry his lovely betrothed or does his fate lay with the mysterious purple-haired girl of his dreams? Could it be that she is one of the cursed living on the Isle of the Lost?
 
Many questions in THE ISLE OF THE LOST go unanswered and readers wanting to learn what happens to Evie, Ben, Mal and the others will have to see the Disney Channel's original movie Descendants, for which this book serves as a prequel. The book itself is fun and full of lots of clever Disney references, especially to the Disney Princesses. The premise --- the coming-of-age of a second generation of bad guys --- is a compelling one, the writing is smooth and the characters interesting. Each protagonist’s motivation to assert their independence from their parents while wanting to make their parents proud will resonate with young readers.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on June 8, 2015

The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel
by Melissa de la Cruz

  • Publication Date: April 25, 2017
  • Genres: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Youth Fiction
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • ISBN-10: 1484725441
  • ISBN-13: 9781484725443