If you haven’t been around anything Disney-owned lately or aren’t poking around Booktube recently, you may not have heard about Disney’s new movie featuring the descendants of their “most evil” villains and the book (The Isle of the Lost) that acts as a prequel to the movie. I wouldn’t quite say there aren’t also more evil villains out there they could have had their kids featured in this book/movie package, but I’ll agree that the kids that they did choose came from some pretty bad parents. The movie doesn’t come out for a little while longer (it’s set for sometime this year), but the book came out on May 5th and can be purchased now to read, if you’re interested in this kind of genre. It’s not exactly a fairytale retelling, but is instead a continuation of “what happens after?” for the villains and (less so) for the princes and princesses and ordinary fold they toyed with and lost to.
You can also read the prologue and first chapter of the book here, if you’re interested.
Some spoilers for the book exist in this review. Don’t click ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled.
The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
Series: The Descendants #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Release Date: May 5th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Format: Hardcover, 311 pages.
Rating: 5/5 Crabapples
Find it here: Goodreads || Book Depository
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?
The very first thing I want to say about this book is that it’s a middle-grade book. If you go into this thinking you’re going to be reading a YA novel, you’ll probably find yourself disappointed. I, for one, and not the biggest fan of middle-grade reads, but I actually really enjoyed this. It reads more like middle-grade than it does young adult, but it doesn’t read so low on the middle-grade scale that you feel like you’re almost reading a children’s book.
If you like middle-grade reads and you’re a fan of Disney (I’m a hardcore fan of Disney, which is what really made this an awesome book for me), then I say pick this book up and have at it, don’t bother with the rest of the review until you’ve finished it off. If you’re still iffy, or if you’ve already read it and want to see what I have to say, then continue on reading.
The book features five points-of-view to read from: Mal, daughter of Maleficent, who is the main character of this particular book; Carlos, son of Cruella de Ville; Evie, daughter of the Evil Queen from Snow White; Jay, son of Jafar; and Ben, son of Queen Belle and King Beast, who was only present in a few chapters due to this book mostly being about the evil descendants and not the good ones. Through their eyes, you get to see what the world has become after the movies have ended, both from the Isle of the Lost, where the villains are trapped under a dome that cancels out magic, and from the Kingdom of Auradon, where all the good guys now reside, and magic is not allowed (thanks Fairy Godmother).
I thought the worlds were fantastic, though I didn’t get to hear as much about Auradon as I would have liked. The areas where the villains lived and the way the kids lived their lives were interesting and very fairytale-like, and definitely reminded me of the tone Disney likes to follow when going for things that would appeal to today’s young teens and pre-teens. I think de la Cruz did a really good job creating the world and the characters in her own way. When the four of them go hunting for the scepter, I devoured the riddles they solved and the risks they took, and I definitely felt for them when they had to answer riddles with answers they did not want to be true. Carlos in particular pulled my heartstrings, with him having to state that his mother loved her furs more than she loved her own son, but that also really solidified the fact that these children came from parents of evil, so I applaud the action, even if I felt terrible for Carlos.
What was really cool for me was seeing the ways the villains had aged. Evil Queen had cracked a little, Cruella had cracked even more, Jafar had a gut. A gut! That slim as hell guy had packed it on, and I cracked up at the mental image when it was described in the book. I loved hearing how the villains from my favorite moves had aged and I hope there’s more of that to come. I also want to see how the people of Auradon aged, too, and we only got a glimpse of that when we were with Ben. More please!
One of the things that kind of irked me about it, however, was the fact King Beast was, well, King Beast. I understand why he was called King Beast since that’s what he was referred to throughout the entirety of Beauty and the Beast, and that his name is never actually mentioned in the actual movie, but isn’t Beast’s name actually Adam? I thought it would have been cool to put that in as a little tidbit of trivia for those reading. But I do understand why it wasn’t.
What I would really like to see more of in the next book (and maybe in the movie?) is more from the points of view of the good-guy’s kids. It was interesting to see things from Ben’s side when we could, but I want to see more. I also want to see if Ariel’s canon daughter, Melody, is going to be featured at all in any of the books (assuming more are going to be published, since this is listed as the first book in a series) or in the movie. Also, and this is the shipper in me, I reeeeeally want to see who ends up with who! I think it’s pretty clear who Mal’s going to be going after, but Evie and Jay are another set that I’m keeping my eye on. I hope that’s not scrapped at all in whatever’s to come. I’d prefer not to just see Mal get together with someone while all the others are just… there. Even if they don’t get together, I just want some interaction. They’re teenagers, awkward half-romantic things happen! Anyway.
All in all, this was a really good book! It was entertaining and the world was interesting and the characters were snarky and cute and fun to follow. Again, if you like Disney and middle-grade books, I think you’ll really like this.
If you’ve read it already, let me know what you think! Thanks for reading!
xoxo Nova, who only keeps using this at the end of her posts because she feels like she’s leaving it hanging when she doesn’t.