A Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Book One of the Twisted Tales series
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.
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!
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