If a movie is based on a book, the book will always be better. It’s just a Rule. So what about when a book is the prequel to a movie?
I always read the book first because it enables me to enjoy both, but I stay away from novelezations at all costs. Melissa de la Cruz and Descendants managed to find a middle ground: a prequel novel that gave the movie context. In that way, The Isle of the Lost prepared readers for what came next. It gave an insight into the characters and their friendship that added layers to the final production.
The movie was a phenomena (despite its gaps in logic). It was watched by so many people that the second (coming out Friday) is going to air on every channel the Disney corporation owns. When I heard they were doing another book in between, Return to the Isle of the Lost, I wasn’t surprised. I was even excited to see how our heroes fared being, well, the heroes. And (if you read my post, you know) I hated it because it lacked the darkness and edge that made them Villain Kids.
Rise of the Isle of the Lost did a better job. It shows Mal’s dark side and dependence on magic as well as the contrast between her and Evie. It shows Carlos and his terror at the idea of returning to his abusive mother. It shows Jay’s struggle between rogue and prince as he learns to channel his energy into a new sport instead of thievery. Basically, if Return to the Isle of the Lost had never existed, this book would be perfect.
It shows every way the Villain Kids have changed and all the ways they haven’t, which is a fine and difficult line to walk in a sequel.
Knowing there were two books between the movies concerned me at first, at the first book (second total) didn’t help. Reading the new book, however, eased my fears. The second sets up the movie, especially Mal’s insecurities and Uma’s fury, but ends at a spot where someone could jump in without prior information and still understand what’s going on.
It’s a good book to read if you enjoyed Descendants and are looking forward to its sequel. Give it a chance. As sequels go, it’s definitely worthy of the title.