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.A 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
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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.
1 Cold Espresso