Title: The Isle of the Lost
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Age Group: Middle Grade
Series: The Descendants, book one
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
First off, I'd like to start by saying that I am just a sucker for all things Disney. A total sucker. If it has the signature curlicue writing of Walt, chances are good that I'm at least checking it out. I've been looking forward to The Isle of the Lost since I found out that it was coming out in May. And de la Cruz is a popular teen and children's book author, so when I saw it at my library, well... I snatched it up.
This book was a light and fluffy, entertaining romp through de la Cruz's world, an alternate one where Disney's greatest villains, Maleficent, Grimhilde the evil queen, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil, were punished for their crimes and sent to the Isle of the Lost--as well as their not-so-evil children, and there's also Ben, son of King Beast and Queen Belle, the heir to the Kingdom of Auradon, the opposite of the Isle of the Lost--a virtual paradise, in comparison.
This book was written as a prequel novel to the Disney Channel movie, The Descendants, and I must admit, I'm curious about the film, low budget though it seems. I loved the constant pop culture and Disney references--more often than not, I was laughing aloud, delighted that the author took to the narration of the story with such gusto and detail.
I'd call this book 'fantasy lite'. It definitely had hints of a fantasy adventure novel--epic quests, magic, curses. But it wasn't dark, not in the traditional sense. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable journey, and I'm really looking forward to more from this author, and this series. It was hilarious.
And then the characters, as well: surly, wicked Mal who wants nothing more to live up to her mother's evil legacy, Jay, the son of Jafar, the dashing, debonair thief who doesn't have a care in the world, Evie, the daughter of the evil queen, who just wants a break from her mother's constant litanies of the benefits of being beautiful, Carlos, the shy son of a certain fur-lover, who wants nothing more than for his mother to love him. I loved each of these characters--they were such a jarring comparison to their parents, each entertaining and battling their own demons.
The pacing and worldbuilding of this book was excellent--I was drawn in from the very beginning, which, of course, opened with 'Once upon a time'. The characters were fantastic, and to be honest, I'm really hoping that there is more to come from this series--it really felt like a trip back to my childhood. The bottom line: A fantastically playful, hilarious start to a new series, paying homage to the great characters of Disney, The Isle of the Lost is a fun, magical adventure worth savoring for all ages!