Friday, 3 February 2017

The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel

The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel by Melissa De La Cruz (Paper Rocket) PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781474857994

Return to the Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel by Melissa De La Cruz (Paper Rocket) PB RRP $14.99
ISBN 9781474857062

Reviewed by Kate Simpson

In the United States of Auradon the heroes of countless Disney fairy tales live (mostly) in peace and happiness. Across the way, on the Isle of the Lost things are not so rosy. Here the fairy tale villains live in exile, fed on the scraps from the privileged tables of Auradon. Their children are raised to be wicked: to steal, to lie and to dominate. But when Maleficent sends her daughter Mal on a quest to retrieve the Dragon’s Eye, will the villains’ children prove themselves to be as evil as their parents believe them to be?

The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel is a comedy-adventure novel for 10 to 14-year-olds that forms the prequel to the television movie Descendants. In spite of the quest element to this tale, it is a book more likely to appeal to girls than boys, due to its Disney princess references and the dusting of romance that is heavier than usual for books targeted at this age range. It is also aimed squarely at Disney fans, with scores of in-jokes and references to a large number of Disney films dating right back to Cinderella (1950).

Children in the target audience will find this to be a fun and fast-paced read. The emotional conflict between the children and their parents, which could have been quite dark, is dealt with in a fairly superficial way, in keeping with the Disney stable and the tone of the book. If considered a standalone book, the ending is a somewhat unsatisfying; however Isle of the Lost is not intended to be read alone. Parents buying this book for their children should also expect to invest in the Descendents movie, as readers who haven’t already seen the film will almost certainly want to see it when they are finished reading.

Return to the Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel picks up the story line following the events of the movie. The events of the film are not covered in either book, so I would strongly recommend that readers take the time to see the film before picking up this sequel. 

In Return to the Isle of the Lost, Maleficent’s daughter Mal, Cruella De Vil’s son Carlos, Jafar’s son Jay and Evil Queen’s daughter Evie have been living happily in the United States of Auradon for some time and attending Auradon Prep with the children and grandchildren of a gaggle of fairy tale heroes. When they receive a mysterious invitation to return to the Isle; however, another quest is not far away.

Return to the Isle of the Lost is a fitting sequel to Isle of the Lost, with the same Disney in-jokes and fairy-tale mash-up setting. By the time of Return to the Isle of the Lost, our heroes have lost all trace of their evil ways, which makes for a more straightforward story line and a very enjoyable read. Readers of Isle of the Lost may even find they prefer this sequel to its predecessor.



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