Isle of the Lost is a young adult novel set in the universe of the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) Descendants written by Melissa de la Cruz. As my four year old daughter has become enamoured with Descendants (and so have I), I decided to pick up the novel from the local library to see if it was age appropriate for my four year old. It was not, but I’ll get to that later. Overall, though, it was an enjoyable read and as a novel written for young adults, an easy read.
Isle of the Lost is a prequel novel to the DCOM Descendants. In the novel, we meet Mal, Evie, Ben, Jay, and Carlos. We get a whirlwind adventure of a tale with our four main villain’s children. As I mentioned in my previous piece on Descendants:
Descendants is a Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) about the children of some prominent Disney villains (Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, The Evil Queen, and Jafar) attending a school for Princes/Princesses (i.e. the children of Disney heroes/royalty) after years of being isolated on an island of evil where magic had been blocked. It’s a cultural shock as these generally impoverished Disney villain’s children find themselves in the wealthy and always good lifestyle of the wealthy Disney Princes and Princesses children. As the movie progresses, we see the characters fighting their evil upbringing as they begin to see the benefit of good society and the friends they begin to make.
The novel takes place immediately before the events of the movie. First, is a flashback set when the main cast is 6 at a party set for Evie – after which Maleficent banishes the Evil Queen to a far corner of the Isle of the Lost. Jump to the present and Evie is going to school fro the first time after being “castle schooled.” We see as she adjusts to life among fellow teens and as, through the adventure in the story, the four of them seem to grow the genuine friendship we see in the movie. We also are introduced to their parents in an interactive way – where we really see more of Mal with Maleficent (including why she’s named Mal). We see more of Jafar’s interactions with his son, and the fallen state he’s in. We also see Cruella and her descent into madness, as well as the Evil Queen’s madness. It’s an interesting expansion on the characters.
Onto the reason why it’s inappropriate for my 4 year old. First – there is some language which may be inappropriate (use of the word hell to describe a house). There are also very specific teen party situations which are inappropriate for a young child including discussions of “Seven Minutes in Heaven” as well as implications of alcohol use. There are also situations which are scarier than in the film including instances where you are feeling as though there is a potential for serious harm or death for the characters. As we know their alive in the film, we know that won’t happen – but there is some suspense which may be too scary for younger readers.
This is a middle reader novel – aimed at tweens and younger teens. For that audience, which includes my 13 year old sister it’s at the perfect reading and content level. For an adult, it will be a breeze of a read and, if you do enjoy the characters, it’s worth delving into. The villains are evil, yet relatable. Their is definite struggle within them trying to figure themselves out apart from the definition of their parents, a concept we see continued into the film. We see them addressing challenges – some which are high fantasy challenges and some which are the relatable day to day challenges every teenager encounters. Oh – and we also get a side story with Ben.
We get to see Ben’s first real encounter with the political world that Descendants is in. As he’s going to be King, his father (King Beast/Adam) tells him to lead a meeting of the sidekicks. They have 1,001 pages of complaints and it’s Ben’s responsibility now to broker a deal between the Kingdom and the sidekicks. His interactions with his parents, his girlfriend Audra, and the sidekicks provide some great insight into the character and honestly make him even more likable than he was in the film (which I didn’t think was possible, he was an excellently crafted character – albeit cheesy at times).
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was an easy read with interesting expansions on the characters we like from Descendants. I look forward to reading Melissa de la Cruz’s sequel novel “Return to the Isle of the Lost” in May. Expect me to comment on it profusely as well here…
Image via Disney Channel Australia