Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz

The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz
Series: The Descendants #1
Genre: Fantasy/Fairy Tale Retelling
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Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon and made to live in virtual imprisonment on the Isle of the Lost. The island is surrounded by a magical force field that keeps the villains and their descendants safely locked up and away from the mainland. Life on the island is dark and dreary. It is a dirty, decrepit place that's been left to rot and forgotten by the world.

But hidden in the mysterious Forbidden Fortress is a dragon's eye: the key to true darkness and the villains' only hope of escape. Only the cleverest, evilest, nastiest little villain can find it...who will it be?

It's been awhile since a fantasy book hit all the right notes with me - even longer since I could look at a book objectively and say exactly why I like it. You see, there's three things I love in fantasy.

I love quests. I love groups. I love humor.
Put all three together and there's a better than average chance I'll love the book. Add characters that I like with some good development I mean, evil development ;) and we are golden. Throw in a suspiciously Plot Tailored to the Party and I have found my new obsession.

There, underneath a protective dome that kept all manner of enchantment out of their clutches, the terrible, the treacherous, the truly awful, and the severely sinister were cursed to live without the power of magic.

This book is actually quite different from what I was expecting. I thought it would be a bit more serious and…well, villainous. This is a very goofy book most of the time. If you're looking for a serious read, find something else. (I cannot stress that strongly enough.)

In this book, we have second generation villains going to school located in a cemetery and taking classes like 'Selfishness 101' aka: selfies. For gym class they 'learn to flee on foot'. They are ranked by EG or 'Evil Quotient'. The highest score they can get on their tests is 'E'. Anyone want to guess what that stands for?

One of our main characters has decided that black is too common a color for villain wear. But purple…It's unique while still being villainous. So she dresses all in purple and her bedroom is purple. (And her hair.)

Good and evil have switched places in these peoples minds. They see themselves as evil, but evil is, after all, the best! You have rotten apples that are seen as delectable (or the cake made from wormy sour apples) and when a girl has a dream about a handsome prince, she feels like she's having a nightmare.

This is the story of a wicked fairy…A wily thief…A beautiful princess…A smart little boy…And a handsome prince who lived far, far away.

I'm going to say right now that the characters in this book are all so much fun and I like all of them. (Which surprises me just a bit.)

I like how each one is a different character and, in truth, I never actually thought that most of them were evil. Much to their parents eternal disappointment. It's also absolutely hilarious to see a slightly washed up villain (or, villainess) trying to raise a child in the proper, evil way. And, I got to say, these are some of the worst parents I've ever seen. (Can't say I'm surprised there, though.)

I like the way each character is different, filling out certain needed roles in any good quest adventure. And that's what this is - or at least, borrows strongly from. The first half of the book, or so, is getting to know the characters and giving them all a reason to team up. (After all, villains don't work well with others.) The second half is them *shudder* working together to find the Dragon's Eye.

To the east lay the colorful domes of the Sultan's seat, where Aladdin and Jasmine lived, not far from where Mulan and Li Shang guarded the imperial palace. To the north was Charming Castle, owned by Cinderella and her king, next door to "Honeymoon Cottage," the forty-bedroom palace that Aurora and Phillip called home. And to the south, one could spy the lanterns of Rapunzel and Eugene Fitzherbert's divine domicile, near the spot on the coast where Arial and Eric had made their under-and-over-the-sea royal residence at Seaside.

Honestly, what this book reminds me most of is a teen version of Once Upon A Time. They've taken all the storybook characters and, instead of sending them to the modern world - a land without magic - they've locked the vilest villains up on an island - also conveniently without magic.

There exists TV and Cable (below basic, for our poor crooks) and internet and magic translators for those mice and dogs. It really is an odd world. And I want to know why anyone thought it was a good idea to give a bunch of teenage villains-in-training a class called 'Weird Science'.

In the end, this book has proven something to me. If villains would actually work together, they'd be unbeatable - which is something that I actually long suspected.