The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz (The Descendants #1)
Published Disney Hyperion 2015
Genre: Children’s Fantasy
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.
I thought that this book was really cute – a great take on the world of Disney villains and an interesting twist on the fairytales that we all know. This book is the companion novel to an upcoming Disney Channel movie and I decided to pick this up after seeing that it was about Disney villains. I think that there is something intriguing about the Disney brand of villains and I was curious about this version of it.
The Isle of the Lost is occupied by the villains (some resurrected from the dead – which I couldn’t understand. Wouldn’t you want them out of your life?) and their children. I’m interested to know who the father/mother of some of these kids were…Anyway, the kids grow up in a run-down place. They only get scraps from Auradon (where the heroes live) and they live between piles of junk. Not a good living condition. I felt like the world building kind of got away from the book in some parts. There were lots of cameos of different villains and their children, somewhat unnecessary characters, and this felt like they were dropped in just for fun and to add some more of the details in the Disney world.
The four main characters are all different and get their own perspectives. I think that I like Carlos the best, mostly because he felt the most complex. I liked the relationship he had with his self-centered mother and his interest in technology. I also liked Jay, but maybe that’s because I like Jafar. The two girls, Mal and Evie, were okay but I wanted more from both of them. Mal is the main character, so I expected a bit more character development. And Evie seemed too nice for her world.
The plot seemed really crucial to understanding the world, so I’m not sure how they are going to fit all that world building into the movie. That having been said, I felt like it was really intriguing. I liked seeing all the magic systems and the layout of the island. I don’t want to spoil too much, but their overall journey is both physical and psychological. I like the idea of anti-villains because all these kids have grey areas between what is expected of them, as villains’ kids, and their own nature to be good.
Overall, this was a really cute book. I liked seeing this fun, unique world and what happened to some of the Disney characters. I’ll probably be tuning into the movie too, mostly just to see how it works for audiences who haven’t read the book.