Monday, June 5, 2017

Book Review: CJ's Treasure Chase (Disney Descendants: School of Secrets #1)

Release Date: August 30, 2016
Author: Jessica Brody
Publisher: Disney Press
Length: 192 pages
Source: Library Book

CJ is the daughter of Captain James Hook. She's fierce. She's swashbuckling. And she has big dreams. . . like finding the treasure she's known about since she was a little girl stranded on the Isle of the Lost. When CJ sneaks out of Auradon Prep with her best friend, Freddie, they go on a wild chase to find it.

The School of Secrets series of chapter books continues the story of Mal and her friends, plus new Villain kids and Auradon kids introduced in the popular Wicked World short form videos. Enjoy these all-new tales of mystery, magic and adventure from the world of the hit movie Descendants!



Protagonist: CJ Hook as found a way off the Isle of the Lost, she stows away on a spell cast by the genie Jordan and is hiding out in her best friend Freddie's dorm room. She doesn't plan on going to Auradon Prep, however, no, CJ has much more adventurous plans in mind. Ever since she was young CJ has dreamed of following a map she found in her the hold of her father's ship, a map that just may be magical, but until now she didn't have any access to magic. It was really interesting to read from a real VK's perspective in this series. I mean, in the novels written by Melissa De La Cruz, we see from the original Auradon VK's perspectives, but they're either not in Auradon yet, like with the first installment, or they had been reformed though still struggled with their dark sides a little. However, CJ is a roguish riot, sneaking around Auradon Prep as to not be discovered and sent back to the Isle, or threatening to kidnap people and force them to do what she wants on her treasure chase. She does have a good bit of character development in this story, though not exactly in the way I was assuming when I cracked this book open.

World Building: So if you read my review of Rise of the Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz, I mentioned how I was getting tired of constantly going back to the Isle without really getting to see the rest of Auradon, however, this story has very little Isle, but a good chunk of Auradon to explore. There's quite a bit of backtracking in this story as the author wrote in little callouts to the Descendants movie as well as the Wicked World shorts, but seeing it from a different perspective kept those moments from getting boring. However, once this story gets caught up with the end of the first season of the Wicked World shorts, things really spring into high gear and it sees our protagonist race across Auradon in hopes of laying her hands on this amazing treasure she's dreamed about since she was little. It was a lot of fun getting to see more of this world and while I had braced myself for this feeling like it was written for a Middle-Grade audience like the De La Cruz sometimes do, or even written for a younger audience than that, it never happened. I liked how reading this short adventure felt like it was written for fans of the series, no matter what age they might be.

Predictability: So, while I never felt talked down to in the writing and the world building of this story, the plot of the story was rather predictable. Well, sort of. See, this isn't a long story and so the author only has so many pages to get from point A to point B and so there's not a lot of time to set up big twists and turns. So the adventure, while very enjoyable was a tad predictable. That being said though, there were still a few times where, given CJ's wild card personality, I wasn't quite sure where the story would take me.

Ending: I don't know what to say about this ending. I mean it's a very short story, very quick to fly through in one sitting and while the final climax of the story was really fun and we got to see a lot of CJ's character development come to light, as she faced her final hurdle toward the treasure, there wasn't as big of an ending to this story as there is in something like the other novels, or even the movie. However, there is a pretty great cooldown period where we learn of CJ's fate going forward and a bit of a tease at what's to come next in the School of Secrets series. I was pretty surprised where things ended up and while I'm sad that CJ's not going to be the main protagonist for the whole series I'm excited to read more stories in this world.


Like I said in my review, I was bracing myself and dragging my heels to read this story since I expected it to either be geared toward an MG or younger audience or for it to be unbelievably cheesy. It wasn't though, there's a little bit of cheesy-ness in the story but overall it was a fun and exciting adventure and I'm kind of stoked to read the other School of Secrets books and have more adventures in this world.


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