A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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 great; this 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?
- Author: Melissa de la Cruz
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Book Characters, Fairy Tales
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
- Publication date: May 5, 2015
- Number of pages: 320
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.