Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

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I received this book for free from Disney Book Group in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Whole New World by Liz BraswellA Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Series: A Twisted Tale #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on September 1, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Retellings, YA
Source: Disney Book Group
Buy on Amazon

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 ofAladdin 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 a disappointment this book turned out to be.

You know, when I requested for this book, I did it because I was really, really expecting a Disney movie retelling (wait, is that even allowed? Isn’t there supposed to be some copyright thingy about modifying a well-known commercial masterpiece into something else? Can some lawyer clarify this for me, please?!) that would literally bring me a whole new world. You see, there is something that books can do better than movies – one of them is characterization. With a book, you can get into the deepest psyche of the characters and really get to know them in a more personal and intimate level; we’ll be able to know more why they feel a certain why or how their feeling or other external factors weigh in their actions and decisions.

Unfortunately, there was none of that here. The book relied on the fact we already knew Aladdin and Jasmine and Rafah and Jafar and then left it as that, portraying them instead as very one-dimensional characters with no substantial character development. Believe that the others say – 25% of this book is a cut-and-paste of the original movie, 75% is fanfic material. If you’re into that sort of thing, then this would be right up your alley. This book asked the question, “What if it was Jafar who got the lamp and the genie and the wishes?” Interesting question – I could come up with a thousand scenarios stemming from that, but the book just had to go towards the predictable, cliché route, with cardboard, uninspiring characters, to boot.

Like seriously, we don’t even really get to know Jafar’s story, or why he wished the things he wished, or why he was the way he was. This is about what if it were Jafar who got the lamp, and yet, there were no dedicated chapters about him? What the bloody heck?! We already know what Aladdin would have done if he got the lamp; since it’s going to be Jafar this time, why not give him more of the spotlight? Why do we have to have a rehash of this romance between Aladdin and Jasmine, which we have already witnessed in the fricking original movie, which we all have watched a million times already?! WHERE IS THE BLOODY FUN IN THAT?! I just don’t get it – here’s the chance to get to know Jafar and all the spotlight is on Aladdin and Jasmine. What we get then was a boring-ass antagonist who was evil because he was evil. And when it was the time to give us a reason why he was doing the things he did, it wasn’t from his perspective or anything, it was from the main characters themselves, talking amongst themselves why they thought he did what he did.

“Because that’s what he wants,” she explained. “More than anything, Jafar seems to want to be loved and admired – that’s why he has those parades, and gives all the coins out, and make those speeches from the balcony. He wants everyone, including me, to love him.”

What the heck?! Are you guys Dr. Phil now?!


I just found it incredibly lazy. It didn’t show us this development or these info, it simply told us just like that. And not from the POV of the antagonist, to boot! Uuugh…

Even then, let us do say that it was never intended to show a more complex side of Jafar. It was all meant to be for Aladdin and Jasmine and how they went their way to start a rebellion to take back the Sultanate of Agrabah. I’d still say it was disappointing as hell because like I previously mentioned, there was absolutely zero character development. Aladdin sees Jasmine for the first time and he falls in love. I know he kinda does the same in the movie, but I kind of expected more from this book, that it would at least try to give us a more meaningful and fulfilling romance. Sure, it had ample action, but without the emotional connection to the characters, how would I ever feel the tension and the urgency? Not to mention, the twists were so, so uninspiring that it felt anti-climactic. Like, wow, the great plan was to do BIG ACTION A in order to disguise STEALTHY ACTION B?! Hah, I so didn’t see THAT coming.

All in all, it was a disappointing book. As Emily May stated in her review, it feels like a fanfic, and I have to agree with her. You’re better off with watching the movie instead, at least it has songs.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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19 Responses to “Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell”

  1. tonyalee

    This saddens me.

    I mean, it doesn’t make sense that we don’t get the nitty gritty about Jafar. Add in ZERO character development, across the board?? *sigh*

  2. Jessica @ a GREAT read

    Oh sob! I had so been looking forward to this one! I’m a Disney fanatic & I love fairy tale retellings. I looooved what this author did with the Snow White fairy tale years ago! That this was a huge disappointment for you makes me want to cry!! That’s terrible about the character development and focus! I would’ve sorta thought we’d get some insight to Jafar. Ugh. Maybe I’ll try getting this from the library. As I still feel a need to try it. Thank you for your honest opinion!

  3. Vane J.

    Yeah, I don’t think I will ever read this. All the reviews say this is a copy of the Disney movie, which I LOVE and would not like to see mocked to badly in a book. Shame, shame.

  4. Jessica Samuelsen

    Wow! That’s an intense review. The cover is lovely…. But sometimes I feel you should leave well enough alone. I liked the story of Aladdin as it was. I was thinking maybe I should give this book a chance, I’m not being open minded. After reading your feelings about it… I am going to stick with my original plan and leave it alone. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Ksenia

    I read the blurb: I’m so intrigued and excited. I read your review: oh, no… I agree that the author should tell more about Jafar, his motivation and not the same old story about Aladdin and Jasmine. Sorry it was such a disappointment for you, Faye. Great review!

  6. Brittany

    I think I’m one of the few people who thought this book was going to be awful. Idk why but I just had a feeling. I always hope someone will prove me wrong but it looks like this time isnt the case. 🙁 I won’t bother reading this one.

    Britt @ Bad Wolf Reviews

    • Susan Chapek

      I wasn’t sure it would be awful, but I could see from the advance PR that it would be predictable. “Mockingjay Meets Aladdin,” perhaps? So I was curious, but just barely.

      Many thanks to Faye for sparing me having to even sample it.

  7. Lyn Kaye

    “What the heck?! Are you guys Dr. Phil now?!”

    Sorry, I still laugh over that line every time I see it pop up.

    I’m still trying to see if I want to give it a shot. I don’t want to turn away Hyperion, but honestly, I really don’t think I am the right person for this novel.

  8. Serena

    Oh, it’s such a shame you didn’t enjoy this book. I was really looking forward to reading A Whole New World, but I might give it a miss.

  9. Hannah

    My parents never got me Disney movies to watch as a kid, nor the Disney fairy tales – so I have to shamefully confess, I don’t actually know the story of Aladdin. Except that there’s a genie and a lamp involved. But I digress. Sorry this one was such a dud for you! It’s been a year of fairy tale retellings, and sadly not all of them have been so great.

  10. Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

    Man this is so disappointing! I just love the concept behind this book and the Aladdin retelling but for it just to rehash the original story with bland characters and lack of development for Jafar? Boo! Lovely review Faye.

  11. Wendy @ Book Scents

    This makes me so sad because when I first heard about it I was SO excited! It could’ve been amazing! But ugh, lack of development is huge. And if it’s touted as a retelling, why just have a bunch from the original story? 🙁 That’s disappointing!

  12. Morgan @ Gone with the Words

    Completely agree with your review, I was SO disappointed. I actually DNFed 50% through, I couldn’t take it anymore. Besides the lazy, cardboard characterization and the fact that the first 25% is a worse version of the movie, I couldn’t stand the language choices! Some of the words were really out of place and other bits of dialogue sounded really modern and dumb. This could have been such a great book, which is a shame.

  13. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide

    That’s SO disappointing!! 🙁 I actually didn’t request this one because I was afraid of it and wanted to see what other people thought. I think I’ll stick to what the reviewers have been saying and skip it! Thanks for your thoughts!!

  14. Chas Dudzinski

    Fans of Disney s Aladdin will love Liz Braswell s novel A Whole New World, which offers a fresh and twisted take on the beloved tale. What if Jafar got his hands on the lamp and the genie precisely when he planned to?