The Isle of the Lost: The Descendants, Book 1

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Isle of the Lost: The Descendants, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Tale of Disney villains' kids has cliché plot, characters.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There's a little bit of bona fide science in Carlos' experiments, but that's about it.

Positive Messages

Lurking under the commercialism and the oft-repeated loyalty to the cause of evil, there's the glimmer of a message about kids, even evil ones, learning to work together and maybe even be friends. But for that, you'll have to watch the series.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters are 16, but their emotional development seems to have stopped at about age 6, when a fateful birthday party defined their future relationships. Carlos and Evie are slightly more inclined toward positive qualities such as kindness and compassion, but in keeping with their upbringing they do their best to repress these feelings. Over the course of the story, all four villain kids start questioning their parents' values. Prince Ben struggles with his kingly responsibilities (as well as his sweet but airheaded fiancée) but always strives to do the right thing.

Violence

Since villains are pretty thick on the ground here, there's a lot of gruff talk and bad behavior (for example, when Mal steals a cup of coffee, the vendor, a goblin, threatens to boil her in the coffee pot). There are creepy scenes and monstrous characters, but it's mostly cartoonish.

Sex

The characters, age 16, make childish jokes about not being each other's type when their adventures force them to hold hands. Aside from occasional references to Mal's unidentified but despised human father (sure to figure in future episodes), there's little detail on how the thoroughly disagreeable villains produced children, as only one parent is in evidence for each. One scene involves a kissing game at a party, which doesn't actually happen. For reasons yet to be explained, Mal and Ben dream about each other.

Language

Multiple uses of "crap," "poop," and the like.

 

Consumerism

Aside from the nonstop references to events and conflicts in dozens of Disney products on nearly every page, the goblins serve their brews in Starbucks sizes, and one of the riddles the beauty-queen character solves involves the colors of Revlon lipsticks. One of the chapters is called "The Girl with the Double Dragon Tattoo," a reference to the non-kid-friendly thriller series. And so on.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the relentlessly hyped Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz serves as a prequel to the (also relentlessly hyped) Disney Channel series The Descendants and is itself the first of a multivolume book series. Its intriguing premise -- 16-year-old children of Disney villains embark on a quest -- quickly devolves into a half-baked plot with thinly developed, unlikable characters and constant plugola for half the Disney catalog. In an apparent effort to distinguish the series from G-rated Disney fare, characters say "crap" a fair amount.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKjbartolotta September 9, 2015

Your kids will make you buy this, don't expect much though.

Exhausting, unfunny, and badly written, even for a cash-in this seems fairly mercenary. Use this as an opportunity to talk to your kids about the way corporatio... Continue reading
Adult Written byGeneral W. September 8, 2017

Corporate Cash Grab On The Average Angst Teen

I honestly have no idea how the heck this got approved in the end. Any sane person would through it into shark infested waters before it ever got released, I ha... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byBooklover21 May 20, 2016

Couldn't get past the second chapter

Along with the fact that everything in the descendants universe has ripped off the basic idea of Ever After High, in the sense that they're both about the... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byDasher000_ November 8, 2015

The Isle of The Lost

Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost - a dark and dreary place protected by a force field t... Continue reading

What's the story?

On the ISLE OF THE LOST, where every villain of every Disney cartoon ever made lives in disgruntled, magic-free exile, mean girl Mal (daughter of Maleficent), beauty-obsessed Evie (daughter of the Evil Queen in Snow White), thieving Jay (son of Jafar from Aladdin), and nerdy Carlos (son of Cruella de Vil) embark on a quest to find Maleficent's scepter -- not because they're friends but because one of them's bullied into going along, and the others tend to have ulterior motives that involve harming one kid or another. Meanwhile, in the kingdom of Auradon, the villains are gone but, as Prince Ben, son of Beauty and the Beast, discovers, there's trouble in paradise.

Is it any good?

Spin-offs of classic tales are as old as the hills, and lots of them are greatthis one, however, reads like a glib, cynical effort to wring a few more bucks out of venerable Disney properties. Gothic/YA author Melissa de la Cruz seems to have been given the thankless task of bringing to life a raft of characters who are essentially ciphers, with clumsy, broad-brush results that leave you with little reason to care about them or their issues:

"Evie was torn. On the one hand, she knew she should stay away from Mal if she wanted to be safe, but on the other, she never got to hang out with kids her age.

"Evil Queen nodded. 'Sure! I'll see you at home, sweetie.' As she left, she mouthed, 'Reapply your lip gloss!'"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about spin-off stories  Do you like them, or do you think once is enough for a set of characters?

  • Do you know any kids whose parents seem like kind of awful people, but the kids are nice? What kinds of difficulties does this cause?

  • Pick a Disney villain not in this book and create a character who's his or her child. What's the kid like? Would you be friends with him or her?

Book details

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