Monday, August 3, 2015

Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell


A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Book One of the Twisted Tales series
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
Rating: 2 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

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.

What I Liked:

Yikes! This could have gone a lot better. If you've seen the movie Aladdin (1992), then you're set. This book isn't necessary at all, if you've watched the movie. And even if you haven't watched the movie... there are issues with this book that are issues that I have that have to do with the writing, the structure, the plot, the basic development. This wasn't a good story, and it wasn't a good book based off the movie. Whatever it was, it wasn't great.

Aladdin is a Street Rat, born and raised in the streets of Agrabah. One day, the princess decides to take a stroll in the market. Aladdin rescues her from getting her hands cut off. She tells him that she is running away from home, because her father is going to force her to marry someone. Then Aladdin is whisked away to Jafar, who has him get the lamp from the cave in the desert, by trickery. Aladdin survives, Jafar gets the lamp, and makes two wishes - to be the sultan, and to be the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Together, Aladdin and Jasmine must rally the Street Rats and people of Agrabah in order to defeat Jafar and take back the city.

Well. I did actually finish this book, which is a plus. I notice a slew of DNF reviews on Goodreads, so I thought I'd point out that at least I managed to finish the book! I'm not in the habit of DNF-ing, but still. This book wasn't so awful that even I couldn't finish it. 

It's really similar to the movie, which I guess could be a good thing or a bad thing. I'm looking at it as a bad thing, but hey, another reader out there might be delighted that there is a new publication of Aladdin in book form, with a slightly different spin, too! Not me though. Read on.

What I Did Not Like:

The writing style was VERY trivial - juvenile, as a friend of mine said. And there was so much modern jargon, which was REALLY detracting from the feel of the story. Too many modern phrases (or attempts at modern phrases) for my taste. This is supposed to be a fantasy novel, with magic and sultans and sorcerers and genies. Nowhere is this supposed to have even a hint of modern-day contemporary world-building or aspects or anything. To my knowledge.

And back to the writing in general - poor, at best. I couldn't take the writing seriously, because it seemed choppy and almost conversational, but not a good kind of conversational. Like a conversational with someone that isn't telling the story well. It was like the author was trying too hard for this book to be fun and light and cute... but it just seemed silly and poorly written.

This book is so similar to the movie, I might as well have just popped the movie in and watched. But this book was way worse - the movie is amazing and cannot be touched, but this book doesn't come anywhere close to the movie. 

And separate the book from the movie - this book would still be painful, with the choppy, childish writing style, the poorly development characters, the sloppy romance. I'll get to that in a minute.

I didn't feel like Jasmine or Aladdin grew very much, as characters. Jasmine, maybe, because she stopped being spoiled for about ten minutes so she could save the world. The thing is, Braswell does a lot of telling, and not showing. The same goes with Aladdin's character development.

Not to mention - I still don't understand how a group of Street Rats (CHILDREN) defeated the greatest sorcerer in the world. I'm struggling to understand this. This book is supposed to be a Young Adult book, right? It seemed so poorly constructed, maybe for young kids, ages seven to ten or something. How in the world did CHILDREN defeat Jafar?! Logically, it doesn't make sense. There were a lot of cartoon moments in this novel, where I thought to myself, a REAL "villain" wouldn't just STAND there, or wouldn't do THIS, or wouldn't not do THAT, etc.

The romance is so sloppy! So much insta-love going on! From the start, it's attraction at first sight, which is FINE. But the relationship does not develop at all. Braswell does a lot of telling us about the relationship, but not showing. I don't know how Aladdin and Jasmine grew to trust each other or even like each other. It was instantaneous? Not good enough for me. 

Cookie cutter perfect ending! As one would probably expect. I feel like this book would have made a great Middle Grade novel. But not necessarily YA.

Would I Recommend It:

I wouldn't recommend this novel. Even if you love fantasy (like me). Even if you liked Aladdin (1992) the movie (like me). Or even if you have not seen the movie - just watch the movie, you don't need to read this book. This book is so unnecessary - it's not even a GOOD representation of movie. Or whatever it is supposed to be.

Rating:

1.5 stars -> rounded up to 2 stars. I think it's generosity at this point, and the fact that I was mostly entertained while reading. Notice I never said anything about boredom. I may read the next book in the series, especially the books are companion novels. There may be hope yet!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

24 comments:

  1. I was kinda excited for this, but now it kinda sounds awful. I think I requested this on Netgalley. I hope they deny me now.

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    1. LOL. That is the first time I've heard anyone say that! I suppose I hope you get denied then, Cyra! It might be a good thing!

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  2. Ahhh, the more I hear about this, the more wary I am. I have the ARC and I have been so excited. Mmm, now not so much.

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    1. Hmm, well, perhaps you might enjoy it more! Check out some reviews on Goodreads, they might help (or hurt)!

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  3. Oh no! This is the third review I've read that has given a low rating. This has shattered all my hopes for this book. Starting to think I might not want to read it despite being really excited for it and wanting to read it! At the very,very least, I might try getting it from the library.

    I'm so sad too, because I loved how this author reimagined Snow White in an early book. That one was so, so good! I re-read it over and over as a teen. But now, I'm hearing how poor this one is and can't help but wonder, what happened?! Sigh...I definitely need to make sure I get this from the library! If I read it at all. I better make sure I didn't preorder it either! At least I still have ample time to cancel it.

    Very nice review! I appreciate the honest opinion. Just so sad that everyone seems to be disliking this one.

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    1. Right? I looked through the reviews on Goodreads and was like... glad I'm not alone. A lot of them were DNF reviews too.

      I'd not read anything by this author before! Interesting that's she's already done this type of thing, with other Disney movies. I'm not sure I'd want to read any more of her books, to be honest!

      Thank you, Jessica!

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  4. Yeah, all the other reviews I've seen for this one are the same... Just watch the movie because the book doesn't add anything new to the story at all, and lacks proper world building and character development. Such a pity, I was so excited for a story about Aladdin!

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    1. The movie is soooo great! But this book was trying too hard. Or not enough. We need a good Aladdin retelling!

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  5. I think I've only heard bad things about this book. I was nervous when I read the synopsis for this book. The whole thing didn't seem very original. FanFiction was the first thing that came to mind actually. It just seemed like someone tried to retell a retelling.

    Maybe I'll read it, maybe I won't. All I know is I won't buy it. Thanks for an honest review!

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    1. I don't think it's fan fiction necessarily, but it is... something. Definitely do not buy it! Borrow, perhaps. You're very welcome - and thank YOU!

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  6. Wait so when I thought this was a retelling of sorts of Alladin, I thought FOR SURE it had to be good but...what the what? Amateur writing? No character or plot development? And the fact that it so strongly resembled the movis is just crazy. (Is that even legal?)

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    1. RIGHT!? Anything Aladdin-related must be good... no. Not in this case -_- I'm sure she got permissions to do it since the publisher of the book is Disney! I have no idea though. Not a great book in any case, Keionda!

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  7. Oh and I who thought that this sounded quite good ! Great review :)

    New follower on bloglovin' ^^

    @ "Book Addict"

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    1. Unfortunately it wasn't, for me :/ Thank you ma'am!

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  8. I had such high hopes for this book. I mean, an Aladdin retelling? Yes please! I honestly have not come across one positive review for this. I am hoping The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury will make my Aladdin dreams come true haha.

    Sarah @ The Reading Petal

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    1. You know, come to think of it, I haven't either! Lots of DNF reviews. I am also quite looking forward to The Forbidden Wish! *crosses fingers*

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  9. I had to DNF this book. Ugh, so bad. I hate that it was the exact copy of the Disney movie! So lazy! And the characters felt like caricatures. Looks like it didn't get much better, either. :( I had high hopes for this book/series! Hopefully the next author will do better.

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    1. I don't blame you - you definitely weren't the only one, after taking a look at the Goodreads reviews! It didn't get better at all, sadly -.- We tried though, right?!

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  10. Shoot! It looked so promising, how can Aladdin's story go wrong :(

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  11. And I am now very glad I didn't pick this up at BEA. Wow. Yeah, I'll take the movie instead. Thanks for the great review! :)

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    1. Good foresight, Kel! ;D Thank you so much!

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  12. Hah, I was much kinder than you :D I gave this book three stars. But I regret it. Wishing I could go back and give it two :p I didn't like it either, sadly. It could have been so perfect. But it sucked. I agree with just about everything you say about it :) I must admit to being happy that you didn't love it, lol :) Thank you for sharing Alyssa. <3

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    1. That's good! At the time, you liked something about it. LOL, I'm content with my not liking it. There are more books out there to read!

      You're very welcome - and thank YOU, Carina!

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