Review – A Whole New World
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  • Posted:
  • July 10, 2015

a whole new world

A Whole New World is a new book by Liz Braswell, the first of the Twisted Tales series printed by Disney Press. The series takes classics stories, in this case those that became beloved Disney films, and adds a different twist on them that changes the outcome of the story. Being a Disney girl from way back, I was super intrigued by this book, a take on Aladdin with one extreme twist in the beginning – what would have happened if Jafar had acquired the lamp from the Cave of Wonders, and not Aladdin. 

What happens is an extreme shift of power in Agrabah, a dynamic change that puts Aladdin and Jasmine in a revolution, one that Jasmine soon becomes the de facto leader of. Aladdin admires her through everything, following his heart towards her as things spiral out of control around them. It’s a great idea for a book.

However, there is a problem, and that is that I did not love the book as I ought to have, and that made A Whole New World a huge disappointment for me.

It started in the beginning when the book followed almost exactly the plot of the movie. I expected some similarity i this aspect, don’t get me wrong, but Braswell might as well have been transcribing the film line for line for this book. It was until we get to the scene with Jasmine stealing into the marketplace that we had any variation on dialogue at all (and what we did have was minimal). As is, it took 80+ pages for me to not be reading an exact transcript of the film.

Once I got past that point my hope soared again, as the divergent story caught my interest. However, this too proved to be unsatisfying as many of the characters are flat and lifeless compared with their film counterparts. The added characters that help flesh out the plot, Morgiana and Duban (close friends of Aladdin’s during his childhood) were not engaging enough to lift the weight of the story. That said, I do appreciate that Braswell added another female character and did not make her romantically obsessed with Aladdin as so many other YA authors might have done, though I wonder if that was her decision or Disney’s. It seems like they would not have a vested interest in diluting their own love story? The genie himself also seems underdeveloped, as he is on the opposite side of the fight and we do not spend as much time with him as we could. His jokes were not as funny as I wanted them to be either.

The side characters are not the only flat elements in the book. The story itself does not stand up to its own possibility. Whenever I picked it up I found myself intrigued by it but I never thought to read it except for an obligation to finish it. My enthusiasm wavered as I went on and that is never a good sign. I ended up skimming the final conflict because by that point I just did not care anymore. I have never read Liz Braswell before, so I have no idea is this is me not liking the book or me not caring for her writing. It’s hard to tell unless I tried to read something else by her.

Maybe it’s me, maybe I would have loved this book twenty years ago. Maybe it’s the writing itself, or perhaps it’s constraints levied on the author by Disney itself to make a book that compliments their canon, but I did not enjoy this book as much as I should. It will sell because many people like me will be intrigued by the twist, and the fans of Disney should eat it up. Overall though, I would take it out of the library if I were you and I were interested enough to not pass on it. It’s just a very average, meh read. I’m not sorry I read it, and I am looking forward to seeing what they do next with the Twisted Tales series, but this book just made all of my expectations sad. I wanted to be WOWed by this book and that was not in any way, shape, or form what happened to me.

2 out of 5 stars.

– BP

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