Showing posts with label disney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label disney. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

[Review] The Isle of the Lost (Descendants #1) - Melissa de la Cruz: Disney Villains and Fan Fiction

In THE ISLE OF THE LOST, the descendants of the most wicked Disney villains make plans to escape the island their families have been banished to.

What intrigued me: I've watched a bit of the movie and found it pretty cute. I had no idea this was the prequel so obviously I had to read it first before tackling the movie again.

Fan Fiction Feel

THE ISLE OF THE LOST proposes a topic that I've been longing to see for a while: A continuation of the classic Disney movies. This is essentially fan fiction, which I don't really mind because de la Cruz absolutely manages to create an exciting world. I struggled a little bit with the writing, which reads more like Middle Grade than actual YA and uses very simplistic, yet colorful language.
THE ISLE OF THE LOST does read a little like fan fiction, too, involving tropes you probably remember from all our 2009 AO3 escapades. Unnaturally colored hair, protagonists describing themselves while looking in a mirror, stuff like that.

The target audience confuses me a little. Like I said, the language is very simple and feels Middle Grade, yet we have 16 year-old protagonists. If you take a look at the awards it earned, it's always shelves in the MG category. To me, it's somewhere in between. THE ISLE OF THE LOST doesn't really feel like YA or MG, maybe like something in between, mainly due to the fairy tale language and feel. It could definitely serve as a nice transitional novel if you're mainly a MG or YA reader and would like to try out something different.

Massive, colorful world

We learn about the world through the eyes of out four protagonists, children of the Evil Queen, Maleficent, Jafar, and Cruella de Vil respectively. Usually I'm not a fan of multiple POVs but de la Cruz uses omniscient perspective and is very subtle about it all so that you hardly notice you're dealing with some many POVs.

Even though there are four protagonists, the spotlight is absolutely on the world that de la Cruz created. I grew very attached to it, longing for more of the vivid explanations and finding out more about how everything works over there. But at the end of the day THE ISLE OF THE LOST has a very simple concept and it absolutely works if you want to read something light and cute. Don't expect too much, don't expect highbrow language and thrilling plot twists, and you'll be good to go. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

ISLE OF THE LOST is a really adorable little book that you shouldn't pass up if you like Disney! It does read a little on the younger side and I think it definitely would've benefited from being marketed as Middle Grade and aging the protagonists down a little.



Additional Info

Published: May 5th 2015
Pages: 320
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Genre: YA / High Fantasy
ISBN:  9781484720974

Synopsis:
"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?

Maleficent, Mistress of the Dark: As the self-proclaimed ruler of the isle, Maleficent has no tolerance for anything less than pure evil. She has little time for her subjects, who have still not mastered life without magic. Her only concern is getting off the Isle of the Lost.

Mal: At sixteen, Maleficent's daughter is the most talented student at Dragon Hall, best known for her evil schemes. And when she hears about the dragon's eye, Mal thinks this could be her chance to prove herself as the cruelest of them all.

Evie: Having been castle-schooled for years, Evil Queen's daughter, Evie, doesn't know the ins and outs of Dragon Hall. But she's a quick study, especially after she falls for one too many of Mal's little tricks.

Jay: As the son of Jafar, Jay is a boy of many talents: stealing and lying to name a few. Jay and Mal have been frenemies forever and he's not about to miss out on the hunt for the dragon's eye.

Carlos: Cruella de Vil's son may not be bravest, but he's certainly clever. Carlos's inventions may be the missing piece in locating the dragon's eye and ending the banishment for good.

Mal soon learns from her mother that the dragon's eye is cursed and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She'll just need a little help from her "friends." In their quest for the dragon's eye, these kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain't so bad."(Source: Goodreads)



Have you seen the Descendants movie?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

[Review] Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge: Insta-Love and A Shadow As A Love Interest


In CRUEL BEAUTY, Nyx is sacrificed as a bride to the evil demon prince Ignifex, and intends on killing him to end his reign of terror over their kingdom.

What intrigued me: Was in the mood for a swoony high fantasy romance thingy.

Very awkward writing and world building

The first thing that struck me and kind of lowered my enthusiasm for this is writing. It does read like Hodge is trying to write archaic and ancient-sounding, but isn't quite able to deliver. The result are awkward sentences that are unintentionally hilarious. Generally this does read like a corny historical fiction romance-type of story. It took a lot of getting used to the way she writes and it definitely does not compliment the premise.

The story itself is promising, the premise is interesting (despite being only a retelling), and Hodge does manage to put her own spin on the story. However, I'm not a fan of her approach. The whole idea of getting Nyx into the Ignifex's castle absolutely reads like a mere set up for a love triangle. I was absolutely disappointed to see the novel take this direction, because it has quite the interesting world, with hermiticism, an element of Greek mythology, being the main influence on it. As in, just a side element to fill up the story and give the illusion of actual world building.

I do love a good Greek myth-inspired story and was excited for this, but it just doesn't feel right. The entire "world building" feels like an easy excuse to write about the romance, and I'm not a fan of this.

Insta-love, a love triangle, and zero appeal

I knew what I was signing up for when I started CRUEL BEAUTY. What I didn't sign up for is having this story play into every cliche ever that you've seen in YA. Literally everything. From guys consisting just of eye colors and snark, to the inevitable love triangle, to instant love. 

I have seldom encountered such an unfortunate way of starting a love triangle - it takes two pages between Nyx meeting the second love interest and kissing him. Even more unusual is that the love triangle is between the demon Ignifex and his shadow. It sure reads a little awkwardly and weird, and the plot twist is extremely predictable. I was rooting for Nyx to be a cold-blooded hate-driven killer, I knew she was going to fall in love with the beast, but not easy like that! It took about 3 pages for her plan to vanish into nothingness because of a pretty boy... eh... shadow...cursed human...thing...ish. 

Like this, CRUEL BEAUTY unfortunately lost all its appeal to me and paired with awkward writing and clumsy world building this is not my kind of story.


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

My expectations were too high (mainly because of the hype). CRUEL BEAUTY tries to create the illusion that it's different and new, when it's just your average romantic retelling.

There are better Beauty and Beast retellings out there, and there certainly is better high fantasy out there that doesn't feel as awkward as this. 



Additional Info

Published: January 28th 2014
Pages: 352
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA / Fantasy / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780062224736

Synopsis:
"Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love."(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite fairytale retelling?

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