Oct 29, 2021

Review--Return to the Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz


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 received 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, Male, 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?

I've had Melissa de la Cruz's Descendants series on my TBR for a few years now. I read the first book when it came out, then as usual fell behind when the rest made their way to the stacks! I dove into Return to the Isle of the Lost somewhat blind. I vaguely recalled a few things from the first book and blips of what happened in the Disney Channel movie, and that luckily was enough! There was even a helpful recap in the beginning that set the story up for the current time which was SUPER nice!

Mal, Evie, Carlos, and Jay have all been adapting to Auradon life rather well. They defeated Maleficent, who is now a lizard locked away in a secret room in Ben's palace. Mal and her friends are accepted by the other students...and life is just peachy almost. Then one day Mal and her friends all receive secret messages that tell them to go back to the Isle of Lost. The notes are vague on details and there's not much of a clue to go on, until Carlos does some hacking and uncovers a website of an Anti-Heroes group that has pictures of their faces with X's on them. It becomes clear that Mal and her friends must return to their old stomping ground to see what the villains might be brewing.

Meanwhile, Ben is trying to find his groove into being the king. His first problem is a heck of a predicament when the neighboring kingdom of Camelot has reports of their citizens being terrorized by a large purple dragon! Ben is quick to get on the case since Maleficent is still one his #1 prisoner.

This story was definitely entertaining! I forgot how cute this series was when I read the first book. It has the ultra Disney-ified world to it! You hear mentions of all the famous villains we know and maybe love, we hear the names of all our favorite heroes. What I still want to know is who are the "other" parents of all these villain kids? I can't remember if that was ever mentioned before. But it just seems weird that you have an island full of single parents who somehow metamorphosed a child. On a sci-fi level I could believe it, but not so much on the Disney magical level. Lol.

It kind of amazes me how Mal and her friends are all actually rather good people. I can't remember well enough from the first book how villainous they were. I mean, they were probably somewhat bad, but not up to their parents' level of course. Mal and her friends really have turned a corner and become so good. It's a little too perfect at times, but then you remember this is Disney, things are usually simplified, so really any issues I might have had were brushed away with this thought.

This book definitely focuses on friendship and I like that! Romance isn't really playing a role too much despite the fact that both Mal and Evie have boyfriends. I guess because the book is marketed more on the middle grade level than YA despite the characters being teenagers. It's definitely a book that works for that crossover blend when you're nearing the end of the MG reads and moving into the YA ones. Plus this is still a totally enjoyable read for the Disney fan of any age!

The ending of this story was pure reminiscent of another Disney movie and though it's not one I watched a lot, I still remembered this particular scene and I loved that it happened again, you could say, in this book! While things were wrapped up nicely, there's still a thread or two left hanging that I am sure will play a role in the next installment which I plan to start next! 

Return to the Isle of the Lost was an enchanting and delightful read filled with pure Disney magic! If you were a fan of the Descendants movies, then you have to read these books as I think it will appeal to the fans as well! I also say this is a great read for the Disney fans as well, even if you know nothing about the Descendants movies, this series will get you up to speed nice and quick! 

Overall Rating 4/5 stars

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