Monday, August 10, 2015

Review! Isle of the Lost (A Disney Descendants Novel)


Pre-Reading Thoughts:

I’ve read some reviews on Amazon for this book and I have also read the 17 page preview. I’m extremely excited about this book, but I am a bit worried that the characters won’t be consistent with the movie. I had the hardest time deciding whether I wanted to read the book before the movie or watch the movie before the book. Obviously, no matter what I do one will influence the other and I figured that if I read the book first then I would have preconceived notions about how each of the characters look and I would be disappointed (probably) with the movie counterparts, but if I watched the movie first then I would already know what the characters look like and I would just imagine them when I read the book.

From the reviews on Amazon, I am confident that I will like this book and I can't wait to start reading!

Post-Reading Thoughts:

I'm extremely relieved to say that I liked this book and I think it complimented the movie well. I felt the book was mostly consistent with the movie, which was a HUGE plus. Of the four characters I thought that Jay was written the most similar with his movie part and Carlos was written the least like the movie. In the book, Carlos is the stereotypical nerd, he likens everything to science which I thought wasn't obvious in the movie. Sure, in the movie he is the one that saves them at the museum, but after that there is no indication that he is a "nerd." Honestly, Carlos' constant talking about science was a bit much and I would have liked if the author toned it down a bit. I don't mind that he is smart, I actually like it, but it's a bit much when everything he talks about relates back to science (ex: when they talk about holding hands he talks about momentum and Newton's laws...not really necessary). Now that I know how smart Carlos is I wish that the movie focused more on his schooling, like he could have been the smartest in the school or something (maybe in a sequel?)

[caption id="attachment_80" align="alignright" width="300"]Author Melissa de la Cruz, left, and Dove Cameron, star of the Disney Channel original series "Liv and Maddie" and Disney's "Descendants", are seen at the book launch event for "The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel" at Barnes & Noble, on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for Disney Publishing Worldwide/AP Images) Author Melissa de la Cruz, left, and Dove Cameron, Mal in Disney's "Descendants", are seen at the book launch event for "The Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel" at Barnes & Noble, on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for Disney Publishing Worldwide/AP Images)[/caption]

One of the biggest reasons that I thought this book was a good compliment to the movie was because the characters are a lot more fleshed out. The author did a great job of showing how the characters were thinking and their feelings of inadequacy. This sets up a lot for the movie because it's more obvious as to why certain characters do what they do. For example, it's more obvious as to why Carlos is so attached to the dog he meets--because of the way that Cruella abuses Carlos at home, he is desperate for unconditional love and loyalty, which ironically comes from a dog (he used to be deathly afraid of them).
One of the complaints I had about the movie is why Maleficent was the leader of the island instead of the Evil Queen. Turns out that when they all went to the island the Evil Queen wanted to be the leader and she challenged Maleficent for the role but she lost. I wasn't expecting the author to touch on that at all and when she did I felt a sense of relief and I can more readily accept that Maleficent is the ruler of the island. Actually the author addresses many of the small details that the movie overlooks such as why the villain characters who died in their stories are alive on the island. The answers she provides aren’t super detailed or technical, but it didn't bother me. I'm just glad she provided an explanation to help the reader suspend their disbelief.

Some minor additional thoughts:

  • Mal and Evie's rivalry (or rather Mal dislike toward Evie) isn't evident in the movie.

  • It broke my heart the way Cruella treated Carlos. Out of the four of them, I thought Evie was treated the best, even though she isn't treated well or anything.

  • Evie's and Carlos' initial brother/sister relationship was cute (Evie brought him a pillow and offered him a new comforter...too cute).

  • The funniest scene in the book was when Evie and Carlos are in the treehouse and the TV channel's change to one from Auradon and they describe actual Disney channel shows (Liv and Maddie and Mighty Med). I got a huge kick out of it, especially when Evie commented about Liv and Maddie looking like Mal (Liv, Maddie, and Mal are all played by Dove Cameron). Ha! I laughed out loud for that moment!

  • I loved how it ended--exactly where the movie began.

When I started reading it, I felt a like it was a bit juvenile, but the author actually uses a good vocabulary (for kids) and the tone improves (either that or I get used to it as I read). Overall, I would recommend the book as it will certainly whet your appetite for the movie (which was its intended purpose). I'm hoping that Melissa de la Cruz writes more, because I would love to see more of these characters!


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