Review! Disney Descendants: Return to the Isle of the Lost

Descendants_Return_to_the_Isle_of_the_LostAuthor: Melissa de la Cruz

320 pages–Ages 9-12 (and up)

Published by: Disney-Hyperion on May 24, 2016

Summary (from books.disney.com):

Mal’s an expert at intimidating her enemies, but she’s broken the habit since leaving her villainous roots behind. So when she and her friends Evie, Carlos, and Jay all receive threatening messages demanding they return home, Mal can’t believe it. Sure, she’s King Ben’s girlfriend now, and she’s usually nice to her classmates, but she still didn’t think anyone would be silly enough to try to push her around.

The thing is, it kind of worked. Especially since she and her friends have a sneaking suspicion that their villainous parents are behind the messages. And when Evie looks into her magic mirror, what she sees only confirms their fears. Maleficent’s just a tiny lizard after her run-in with Mal at Ben’s Coronation, but she’s the worst villain in the land for a reason. Could she have found a way to escape? Whatever’s going on, Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay know they have to sneak back to the Isle and get to the bottom of it.

Without its infamous leader, the island’s even worse than when they left it, but the comforts of home-even a home as gloomy as the Isle of the Lost-can be hard to resist for recently reformed villains. Will the kids be able to beat the evil bubbling at the Isle’s wicked core, or will the plot to destroy Auradon succeed?

Trailer for the Book

My Thoughts:

As you have probably guessed form the title (and the cover) this book is a sequel to the bestselling book The Isle of the Lost and also a sequel to the Disney Channel Original Movie Descendants. This book takes place after both the Descendants movie and the short series Disney Descendants: Wicked World. Characters such as Jordan, Freddie, and Allie make short appearances as well as characters like Doug, Chad, and Audrey. In addition to that, all-new characters (mostly villain kids) show up when the four ex-villain kids return to the Isle of the Lost.  One of my fears was that this book would introduce a bunch of new villains and the original four would be pushed aside. Thankfully, that didn’t happen; there was a good mix of old vs. new characters.

The author, Melissa de la Cruz, at BookExpo America 2016 signing copies of Return to the Isle of the Lost.

The author, Melissa de la Cruz, at BookExpo America 2016 signing copies of Return to the Isle of the Lost.

If you’ve watched the movie then you know that at the end Ben and Mal get together and Doug and Evie show the start of a romance. Naturally, you may be curious whether there is going to be romance in this book, and honestly I was sort of expecting it in full force. Thankfully (at least to me), the story was much more focused on the friendships between the four ex-villain kids as opposed to their romances (whew!). Of course, there are mentions of the romances mostly at the beginning and ending. Honestly, I was worried that there was going to be a bunch of mushy gushy scenes between Mal and Ben (who, to me, has a very cardboard like relationship), but there weren’t any (phew). It is confirmed that Doug and Evie started dating (YES! I was rooting for them!). At the end of the book, it is casually mentioned that Carlos probably has a crush on Jane and Jay is probably interested in Jordan (daughter of the Genie from Aladdin). I’m thankful Jay isn’t interested in Audrey (at the end of the movie they dance together so it was on the table), but I can’t really accept Jane and Carlos. To me, they didn’t interact in the movie…like at all. I guess I’m just not a fan and I don’t see why they should end up together, but whatever. There’s no mush in this book so I can live with it all. Besides high school relationships rarely work out (except in Disney movies where you find your soul mate who just happens to be in the same class as you).

My favorite part of this book was the ending (and not because I was excited for this book to be over believe it or not). So in the story there is a purple dragon that is going around attacking parts of Auradon and Ben and Mal (and everyone else) are worried that it’s Maleficent (mild spoiler…it’s not). Regardless, at the end of the book when the identity of the dragon is revealed it’s a real treat. I didn’t see it coming AT ALL and it just tickled me when the characters finally figure out who it is. HINT: Maleficent isn’t the only purple dragon in the Disney Universe! As a side note, Ben picks up Excalibur to finish the fight with the purple dragon, which seems kind of like cheating to me. Since when is King Arthur in the habit of lending out his most valuable and powerful weapon he has?

Cameron Boyce and Sofia Carson celebrating the release of the book.

Cameron Boyce and Sofia Carson celebrating the release of the book.

As a warning, like the previous book this story requires a lot of suspension of disbelief. For example: How can you travel for two days in a squash shaped carriage and get from Auradon (a fictional place) to Great Britain (a very non-fictional place)? Why does Ben have the authority to grant magic wielders the ability to do magic? Is all the magic stuffed in a jar somewhere and Ben can grant it out? And of course, why would the kingdom want a 16 year old, inexperienced king whose parents went on a retirement cruise to make decisions for them? I’m pretty sure leaving an entire kingdom in the hands of an inexperienced teenage boy is a disaster waiting to happen. When the four villain offspring break into the Isle of the Lost they lose a remote that opens the barrier on an island full of villains who are dying to get out and they don’t even panic? Don’t they realize how that’s going to come back to bite them later?  In all reality, the list could probably go on for what would feel like forever! However, if you’re able to suspend your disbelief (I’ve gotten so much practice when reading books) then it makes for a much smoother read.

Overall, it was a really quick read (only took me a few hours to read). I enjoyed the characters and how the story focused on the four ex-villains and their growing trust and friendship between them. After finishing the book I thought it was funny that the story seemed to be going in a completely opposite direction than the first book, then the story sort of 180ed and went in the same direction as the first book. No points for originality, but I still found the book fun and worth reading. I can’t say for sure, but I think the biggest purpose of this book was the set the groundwork for future installments of the franchise. Can’t wait to see what lies in the future for these characters! Definitely a summer must read for middle schoolers.

 

Read an excerpt at the link below:

http://books.disney.com/content/uploads/2015/11/return-isle-lost.pdf

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