Aug 26, 2015

ARC Review--A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

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.

I received this eARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, I was in no way compensated for this review.

Also, my apologies for the lengthy review. There was a lot to be said!

The newest series to hit the YA world, A Twisted Tale, in which we get to see beloved Disney movies changed with a single moment. Such as the first one, A Whole New World, where Liz Braswell questions what would happen if Jafar actually got the lamp first instead of Aladdin? And this is the result.

I've read a handful of reviews already that pretty much say this was a wasted read. And while I can see their point and it's very valid, I find that I can't 100% agree with it, maybe 95%! True, not much difference, but I'm stubborn and if I want to read something despite unpleasant reviews, I'll still likely read it on my own. I can't speak for everyone who's read this, but I almost wonder if other readers are expecting to get the villain's side of the story or expecting to root for the villain and that's what caused the unenjoyment or played a role in it all. That's really not the case after I've read this. The villain is still the villain and the heroes are still the heroes. Things just happen differently.

Told in multiple third person points of view, we get to see a little bit of everyone; Aladdin, Jasmine, and even Jafar. But the third person view point wasn't executed properly, in my opinion. I felt like we were being told a LOT of the story instead of shown. The whole show, don't tell is really rather important. There was a sort of disconnect with the story because I barely knew who these people were outside of the Disney movie! And it was funny at times, having them wish things happened differently, basically having them wish this was the movie.

We get to see a new side of Agrabah with the Street Rats. Apparently, the name isn't at all derogatory as we thought, because they even call themselves this. They are thieves of the marketplace, just struggling to survive and have a little personal gain, whereas Aladdin only steals the food he needs in order to live. One of these characters was Morgiana, and I really want to say this was based on a character from the Aladdin TV series! Though it's been years since I've watched it. The name just sounded sooo familiar to me! And I do believe, if I am recalling correctly, she was a Street Rat friend of Aladdin's.

The first 1/4 of the book or so pretty much follows the movie directly. Even the dialogue was nearly spot on from the movie. Which is a take it or leave it kind of thing I guess. And it's at the moment when Aladdin hands off the lamp to Jafar that things change. Jafar becomes ruler of Agrabah and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Everyone's on pins and needles waiting to see what the third wish will be.

We see the Genie again as well, and while you can almost see the character that Robin Williams brought to life, there was also a difference to him. He wasn't as jovial as we initially met him. I kind of spent a lot of time comparing each character to their movie counterpart. There was a general sameness to them all, but again, subtle differences. Though some of these differences outright bugged me, such as Iago apparently liking to eat the crackers that were constantly shoved down his throat. Really? Abu and Rajah were there as well, though I felt like Abu didn't have his same spunk, though he was talkative in his own way. He just wasn't as adorable as his movie counterpart. And Rajah was even more in this one, and by that I just mean more. He was more than tiger, he was Jasmine's pet.

Though be aware there is a brief moment  or two (can't really elaborate on the second one) of animal abuse in this book. Just wanted to warn fellow animal lovers out there who might pick this up.

And as with any Disney rendition, there's a serious case of insa love. Aladdin and Jasmine meet under the same circumstances--though she says hello to the camel who's her aunt, instead of the doctor--they still fall in love rather quickly. That's just a Disney staple it seems, so again, it's a take it or leave it kind of enjoyment.

Also, it's been said that though marketed as YA, this really doesn't read as YA. It's possibly more middle grade, or just the very young YA. A good read for those looking to venture into the YA world. For Disney fans, I say if you're intrigued even a little by this, then read it. It wasn't a terrible read, but it really wasn't a great read either. So perhaps a library checkout would be best. As I said, the writing was a little subpar and exhibited a lot of telling instead of showing. Character development felt weakened because of this.

A Whole New World has an interesting premise to it, in seeing what would happen if the key moment in a beloved Disney movie was changed. While this one didn't really live up to my expectations, I still look forward to seeing what other authors will contribute to this series.

And on a side note, while I didn't enjoy this author's work here, I truly enjoyed one of her earlier books called Snow, that was written under the name Tracy Lynn. That's back to your basic retelling of Snow White. Not at all related to the Disney movie, either but the original Grimm fairy tale.

Overall Rating 2.5/5 stars

 A Whole New World releases September 1, 2015



  1. finally! someone wrote for aladdin. about time

  2. I just finished this the other day, and I have to say I completely agree with you! It wasn't a complete waste of time, but I was still pretty disappointed by it because I was expecting so much more, especially given how much I love the movie. Great review!

    Beatrice @ Book for Thought

  3. Oh I'm sad! Reading this review, this makes me think that this was one of those factory books where this story was churned out for the sake of creating a profit.

    I shall pass, thank you for your honesty though Jessica! <3

  4. Firstly, thank you for the review! I want to read this despite all the other reviews.
    Secondly, NO ONE CAN REPLACE ROBIN WILLIAMS! He is beloved, immortal and eternal through Genie.

    Also, if the author decides to rewrite in a way all the Disney movies, what can or will happen for "Beauty and the Beast"! I fear for Belle and Beast, because...Gastone duh! :)

  5. Aww my co-blogger felt the same way. I had high hopes for it :(

  6. Yup, agree. I didn't like this one at all. Definitelly a more MG feel!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  7. I'm sorry. Insta-love makes me cringe. I wish you liked it more! Maybe the next Aladdin re-telling will be better!
    Jackie @ No Bent Spines

  8. I was never a huge Aladdin fan, but I liked this version. It was dark and dreary but there was one part that I didn't like and it's what Jafar did to a beloved fun character...I am sure you know which one. Over all I liked it.

  9. This sounds so intriguing ... When I first read the blurb, I was super excited and immediately wanted to give it a go --- a reimagined Aladdin?! Yes please!

    I'm sorry you didn't terribly enjoy it :( It sounds like it has some potential, but not the WOW that it could have had ...

    ~ Liza @ Classy Cat Books

  10. No one seems to be liking this one. I have it for review, but I just can't even bring myself to read it now. Sigh.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction


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