Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Book Review: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

Received: Finished copy from publisher
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Here's the quick and dirty What to Expect:

  • Short chapters (think 4-8 pages)
  • Lots of repetition (Mal isn't living up to her mother's expectations, Cruella DeVil is mean to her son, Jay steals things, Evie's mom is obsessed with beauty, yada yada, etc, etc)
  • Pretty shallow character development, but clear character tropes and motivations
  • Scant world-building (I'm dying inside because the Disney world is SO prime for references and depth that the world-building could have easily been a reason in itself to read a book like this)
  • Tenuous connection to "canon" Disney (Maleficent, Evil Queen, Jafar, and Beast are NOTHING like their original Disney versions). They're ridiculous and, honestly, I don't like them. Not because they're evil, but because they're just such poorly drawn, over the top exaggerations of the original characters. It's almost like they're making a mockery of the originals, and not in a good way.  
  • A confusing lack of second parents (who are the non-Disney character moms and dads??). This is so minor, but I seriously could not stop wondering about this
  • A few chapters focusing on the "good" realm (hinting to the TV-movie's integration of villains and heroes/princesses)
  • A super boring, repetitive first 2/3rds of the book where nothing happens. This was total "prequel filler"
  • A fun final 1/3rd of the book that wasn't spectacular but it definitely kept me engaged. FINALLY I got to see some references to the Disney movies and some actual plot
  • Characters that grew on me despite their thin development
The Isle of the Lost is less of a book in its own right and more of a slapdash prequel novelization to promote the TV movie, which, really, is usually what happens with such books. They're rarely great books. The writing is usually adequate. The characterizations aren't very deep. But, they're supposed to drum up excitement for the TV/movie they're connected with.

So, in that regard, Isle of the Lost succeeded. I'm now a little more interested in seeing the TV movie than I was before I read the book. Will I actually see the movie? Eh, if it's put in front of me, I'd probably give it a try. I'm less enthused because Disney Original Movies are not what they used to be and the glimpses I've seen of the movie plus the way the original villains are portrayed in the book...well, I'm not really a fan.

But, this novelization did, somehow, make me care about the characters enough to want to spend more time with them. I would probably be even more inclined to pick up another book, especially if it had more of a storyline than this "set up" book.

Readers who like the Goddess Girls and Grimmtastic Girls books may enjoy The Isle of the Lost. There's a similar vibe with the focus on the different characters, their inner feelings, and their relationships (though the world-building is FAR better in the Goddess Girls and Grimmtastic Girls books).

Recommended, with the strong asterisk that this is definitely a prequel novelization.

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