Sunday, August 16, 2015

ARC Book Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Twisted Tales #1
Young Adult, Retelling, Romance, Fairytales
Publication.Date:September 1, 2015
Pages:384 (ARC eBook)
Published By:  Disney Press
Website:Liz Braswell 

A Whole New World on Goodreads
My review copy:
Received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Where to get:

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.


Quotes from an ARC and are subject to change
He rested comfortably, eating his dinner, feeling the sun warm his kin and muscles. The morning's bruises were already fading from his arms and legs. The crowds were just beginning to throng the marketplace as the last heat of the day began to wane. Colorful tents and awnings clung to every structure as far as the eye could see, like newly hatched butterflies sunning their wings. The late orange light made the white arches, towers, and balconies gleam like ancient gold.
When the wagon, guards, and camels were a ways down the street, the genie looked back at Aladdin. He gave a nod. Aladdin nodded back. Then the genie turned and continued following his wars, looking serious - and almost sad.

There was something about the genie's face. It was instantly likeable, more prone to smiles and grins than the frowns and grimaces he seemed always to have. He was far more human that Aladdin imagined a djinn would be.

In a different time, he could almost see the two of them becoming friends.
"I have all the mothers, grannies, widows, and spinster aunts of Agrabah behind me. You want to take us on?"

"What can women do?" the man next to her asked disparagingly. In answer, Gulbahar whipped out a wooden ladle and clocked him on the head. He yelped in pain and fell backward."

"You want more of that? I been laundering rugs for fifty years and got the arms to prove it."

I am a sucker for retellings. I am a sucker for Disney. I am a HUGE sucker for Disney retellings. When I first heard about A Whole New World, I was beyond excited. Aladdin isn't my top favorite Disney Princess movie (that title is a tie between The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast), but it's definitely up there. And when I was approved on NetGalley I started reading right away.

We get a sneak peak of Aladdin's mom before jumping into the Aladdin we all know and love. The first 20% is essentially Disney's story with inner monologues and a few characters being fleshed out. Everything changes once Jafar obtains the lamp - Abu does not steal it in Liz's version - and Liz travels down the path of making these characters her own and split from Disney's version.

Jafar's wishes mimic the movie, with the exception of wish three as Genie cannot make anyone fall in love. Genie did still have his spunky personality in the beginning but it's dampened as Jafar is his master and is bat shit crazy, so you can tell he's stuck in some sort of depression. At Jafar's height of power, Jasmine joins Aladdin and the Street Rats to fight Jafar, especially once they learn his plan - to rule the world, naturally.

The characters, to be honest, are flat. It felt like Liz depended too much of our prior knowledge of these characters to really flesh them out and give them depth. On the surface they were a mixture of Disney's Aladdin and Liz's A Whole New World, but that was it. Merely surface level. Even the romance was poorly written. In this aspect if feels like she again depended too much on what we knew from Disney. I believe Aladdin and Jasmine love each other in Aladdin, but I in no way see it in A Whole New World.

However, Liz's descriptive writing is excellent. She writes her scenes beautifully and I can picture her Agrabah in my head. The story itself is well-paced, moving along quickly, and kept me reading but I was disappointed. I was hoping for so much more, especially from a Disney sanctioned retelling. At the same time, I'm curious to see which Disney story Liz will tackle next and I'm willing to give it a chance.

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