I received this book via Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Series: A Twisted Tale,
Published by Disney Press on 2015-09-01
Length: 384 pages
Reviewing eARC from Netgalley
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?
When Jafar steals the Genie’s lamp, he uses his first two wishes to become sultan and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Agrabah lives in fear, waiting for his third and final wish.To stop the power-mad ruler, Aladdin and the deposed Princess Jasmine must unite the people of Agrabah in rebellion. But soon their fight for freedom threatens to tear the kingdom apart in a costly civil war.
What happens next? A Street Rat becomes a leader. A princess becomes a revolutionary. And readers will never look at the story of Aladdin in the same way again
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell is the first in a new series from Disney Press that takes classic Disney films and asks the question “what if.” In this book, the question is “what if Jafar got the lamp instead of Aladdin?” Honestly I was intrigued from that synopsis alone. I LOVE the original cartoon from Disney, I grew up watching it! I can even remember my mom taking me to the theater to see it, so when I saw this book I was all like
Then I started it….
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t terrible. If it was I wouldn’t have bothered to rate it. I just found it….boring for lack of a better word. The writing was great, the imagery was beautiful, the characters were flat. The story line was blah and even with this great twist in the story it was utterly predictable.
Aladdin is the street rat that if you were a Disney kid you know and love. Some of his lines and actions were like I was reading the movie! It’s that closely related. He is the street rat with morals, he looks out for the other street rats and only steals what he needs to survive, nothing more. His insta-love with Jasmine is present when he saves her during their first meeting in the marketplace. And of course the book has to have Abu, his little monkey who is more of a nuisance than comedic relief in this retelling.
Princess Jasmine takes a more central role in this version. After her initial meeting with Aladdin and then Jafar’s betrayal, she isn’t the sweet princess we know. Instead her heart is hardened, she’s fierce, and her ultimate goal is to save her kingdom from the evil sorcerer no matter what it takes. She has a backbone in this book and doesn’t rely on Aladdin for much, not that she did in the original either.
The plot really centers around the twist, Jafar getting the lamp instead of Aladdin. It’s interesting but at the same time I felt it was very predictable. I expected it to be darker, though a zombie army and his penchant for killing is dark. Instead it is appropriate for the middle grade/young adult crowd that it is written for. It alludes to more than it actually shows. The romance is lacking as well, though it is there. Jafar is still the ultimate baddie in my opinion. He’s just as scary as he is in the original if not more so with his newfound power.
Overall, I could take or leave this book. If you aren’t familiar with the film, you may enjoy it more as it’s predictability is based on your knowledge of the movie. However if like me you love the movie, I think you’ll still enjoy the book, at least once you get to the twist (at more than 40% in). What I did enjoy though is that the book is appropriately written for the age group that it is advertised for. This got it big bonus points. If you enjoy young adult literature and retellings or you were a Disney kid, I highly recommend you give it a try!