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Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

Series Review: Descendants by Melissa de la Cruz

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Isle of the Lost (from Goodreads):

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.

breakdown

Series: The Descendants
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, Book 4 to be Released
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Magic, Disney
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2015 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Disclaimer: I only read the first book of the series, Isle of the Lost, and have opted not to pick up the sequels. Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love anything to do with Disney so I was super excited by the premise of this series. The offspring of classic Disney characters all together in one place? Very cool. I’ve read (and enjoyed) Melissa de la Cruz’s works in the past so I couldn’t wait to see how she would weave this unique world.

What I Liked:

–The World–

Without a doubt, the coolest part of this story was the world it was set in. I loved watching the next generation of classic fairy tale characters come to life. All the kids have some of the characteristics of their famous parents but also had their own unique spin which was a treat.

Everything felt original and fresh. I couldn’t get enough of the creativity; it was superb!

What I Didn’t Like:

–That It was Middle Grade–

I’m not one of those people who thinks people should read books for their marketed demographic (ie adults can’t read YA, etc) but I’ve never had great luck with MG titles as an adult. I think I like my stories to be grittier and less predictable and you don’t necessarily get that with an MG title like this one.

–The Plot–

This ties in with the MG genre because most of the “drama” we get is junior high in nature. While it was creative (they are villains after all), I just felt like the plot was a little aimless at times. We do get the overarching plot towards the end of the novel but by then it was too late for me to feel invested in this series.

Will I Finish It?

I don’t think so. I really do love the idea of this series but I’m not sure I would be able to be invested in future instalments. I might check out the movie though!

My Rating: DNF

The Isle of the Lost  3/5| Return to the Isle of the Lost N/A| Rise of the Isle of the Lost  N/A| Book 4 TBP

overall

Readers who enjoy middle grade or absolutely LOVE anything Disney will love this!

Read if You Like: Disney, retellings, fairy tales
Avoid if You: dislike middle grade, want darker/grittier plots

similarreads

  • Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross (Beau Rivage Series #1)
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn (Beastly Chronicles #1)

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Book Review: The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Standalone Review: Catch my thoughts on this book!

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Series: The Ring and the Crown
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
# of Books: 1 2 (The Ring and the Crown, The Lily and the Cross)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: YES

This was originally going to be a trilogy but Melissa announced on her blog in March 2016 that it would be a standalone novel. The sequel was written as a draft and it is available for purchase though no further work will be done on the series.

Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Magic, Romance, Drama, Alternate History
Heat Rating: lukewarm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple

Thoughts:

I’ve read most of Cruz’s Blue Bloods saga (one book to go!) and enjoyed it for the most part. It was a cool spin on vampires and angels and I loved the more mature young adult feel to it. While the series went on longer than I would have liked (it felt like it dragged at times), I really liked her writing style and her ability to write interesting characters and plots. So when I saw this book, my interest was peaked.

What really sucks is that the Goodreads synopsis (read it here) really gives the reader the wrong first impression about this book. When you read the synopsis, you think this book will focus on two best friends stuck in political and royal turmoil–but that is only half of the case. If you get the actual physical copy of the book like I did and read the synopsis there, you get a completely different plot summary–and one that is much more accurate to what the novel is about. That synopsis is the one I have decided to use for my review and you can find it at the bottom of this post.

Long story short: if you are expecting a novel about two girls fighting for the crown complete with lots of offensive magic spells and evil politics abounds–you will be severely disappointed. This book is mostly about 4 girls trying to find their place in a world where they are restricted by society, politics and simply for being females.

Once I figured out what the plot actually was, I started to enjoy the novel. Like her other series, this book focuses on multiple main characters that all interweave in the plot–which makes it that much more interesting if you ask me because there was a lot going on plot-wise. It’s fun to see how everything links together and it keeps the pace of the book on the faster side because multiple things are happening at once.

I was a little lost trying to keep everyone’s lineages straight but once I got more into the story, things started making more sense and I really started to get wrapped up in everything. The plot synopsis is really deceiving again because you think the story will mostly focus on Aelywn and Marie but Aelywn really doesn’t do much for the entire book. I found the book mostly focused on Ronan and Marie with little spurts of Aelywn and Isabelle thrown in. I actually didn’t mind so much because I was really interested in Ronan’s story but I really think Aelywn really could have been developed more and made a really awesome character.

When I was reading, it was really unclear to me if this book was a part of a series because it ended really suddenly yet it seemed to wrap everything up–and I really disliked the ending because of that. Suddenly things that happened “off-stage” are brought to light and it ruined what would have been an awesome ending if they had been more developed instead of simply stated as fact. Looking back at the novel as a whole, it took too long to reach its climax but I still enjoyed reading it.

So if there is a sequel, I’m really interested to see where it is going–because up until the last chapter I was totally on board with what was going to happen in the sequel but the ending really threw me for a loop. Turns out that there is a sequel and based on the synopsis I read it sounds like it is the same cast of characters but with new games afoot. I will probably check it out just for curiosities’ sake but I won’t be counting down the days.

**NOTE: This was going to be a series but the author has decided to keep it as a standalone!

Conclusion:

I think if you go in to this book understanding what is really going to happen with the plot, people would enjoy it more. But frankly the plot descriptions provided to the reader don’t fully explain what is happening. If you are looking for a young adult read filled with magically and politically suspense–look elsewhere because this isn’t it. There is no other way to describe this book other than “chick lit” because the book mostly focuses on the romances of the girls and them trying to find their place in the world. There is a dash of suspense, but it really isn’t present until the last 40 pages. I enjoyed it once I got a grasp of what was happening, but I wish the ending was better. I think de la Cruz missed the mark a bit with this book which is a shame because it would have been really great.

Rating: 3.5/5

Similar Reads:

Synopsis for The Ring and the Crown (from Chapters/Indigo):
Magic is power, and power is magic…

Once they were inseparable, just two little girls playing games in a formidable castle. Now Princess Marie-Victoria, heir to the mightiest empire in the world, and Aelwyn Myrddyn, a bastard mage, face vastly different futures.

Quiet and gentle, Marie has never lived up to the ambitions of her mother, Queen Eleanor the Second. With the help of her Merlin, Eleanor has maintained a stranglehold on the world’s only source of magic. While the enchanters faithfully serve the crown, the sun will never set on the Franco-British Empire.

As the annual London Season begins, the great and noble families across the globe flaunt their wealth and magic at parties, teas, and, of course, the lavish Bal du Drap d’Or, the Ball of the Gold Cloth.

But the talk of the season is Ronan Astor, a social-climbing American with only her dazzling beauty to recommend her. Ronan is determined to make a good match to save her family’s position. But when she falls for a handsome rogue on the voyage over, her lofty plans are imperiled by her desires.

Meanwhile, Isabelle of Orleans, daughter of the displaced French royal family, finds herself cast aside by Leopold, heir to the Prussian crown, in favor of a political marriage to Marie-Victoria. Isabelle arrives in the city bent on reclaiming what is hers. But Marie doesn”t even want Leopold-she has lost her heart to a boy the future queen would never be allowed to marry.

When Marie comes to Aelwyn, desperate to escape a life without love, the girls form a perilous plan that endangers not only the entire kingdom but the fate of the monarchy.

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