Book Review:”The Isle of the Lost” by Melissa De La Cruz

Cover of "The Isle of the Lost" by Melissa De La Cruz.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “The Isle of the Lost” by Melissa De La Cruz! Given that the third Disney Descendants movie just came out, I’m glad I have the opportunity to start from the beginning, given that this book takes place prior to the first movie. Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“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.”

For some context/spoiler warning:

This book takes place in the Disney Descendants film series, and this book essentially acts as the prequel to the first movie. Because of this, there will be some minor spoilers for the first movie involved in this review, as well as obvious spoilers for the book. Also, this is not sponsored by Disney.

Plot development: 5 out of 5 stars

Character development: 5 out of 5 stars

The plot was incredibly well developed. The first few chapters help set up the main characters and their living situations with each of their parents. None of them have great backgrounds (their parents are far from loving) but, like a lot of children, Mal, Evie, Jay and Carlos all want to please their parents and make them proud, and hope to get the recognition they desire from their parents. It’s a bit sad, knowing that each of them realize that they can’t necessarily please their parents during their quest for the Dragon’s eye, but they learn to accept each other and themselves for who they are as their own people.

I enjoyed reading all the main characters equally. Jay, Evie, Carlos and Mal all had their own different quirks and traits that were uniquely them, and I love how they all had different dynamics between each other with Mal as the leader, Jay being his protective self, and Evie and Carlos developing this brother-sister bond of sorts. I also liked how Evie and Mal’s friendship developed as well, going from Mal being an outright bully to Evie and Mal sorting out their differences. Also, for those who despise romances, nothing happens here except for Ben’s potential interest in Mal as well as Mal’s curiosity about Ben due to the two dreaming about each other (but they haven’t met in person at this point in the series, and won’t do so until the first Descendants movie).

I also thought Ben’s subplot and his character development was quite good overall. What he went through, as well as his thought processes surrounding them, led up to his eventual actions for the first movie very well. I like how he had his chance to explore what it means to be a King, but also how to be himself at the same time. He has a big example to live up to through his father, King Beast, but he also learns, over the course of the book and through the short amount of chapters he has, he learns that he needs to be a ruler in his own way, and he learns to accept that he will be a different sort of ruler of Auradon than his father will be, and that it’s okay. He’s learning to adapt to his soon-to-be role of King of Auradon, and he’s doing pretty well so far. I’m interested to see how he will be in future books.

Worldbuilding development: 5 out of 5 stars

I think the worldbuilding was overall well done. We got a good look at what the living situations are like in the Isle of the Lost, and though we had very few chapters in Auradon itself, we also saw comparisons between the two through Ben’s thought processes as well as the dream flashback of him seeing (presumably) Mal when he notices everyone drinks their coffee black with no cream or coffee cakes. Little details like that really help bring out the comparisons and show us how bad it is in the Isle of the Lost while Auradon has it all, so I enjoyed those moments.

I also liked how the Forbidden Fortress contained tests that adhered to each of the main protagonists and their parents, as well as how it affected them emotionally and their overall development. I won’t spoil too much here about how it specifically affected each character because those lead to major spoilers, but it’s well-executed all around.

Overall, I have to give this book 5 out of 5 stars! I definitely plan to check out the movies, as well as read the next books in the series!

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