A Whole New World
by Liz Braswell
published on September 1st 2015 by Disney Press
young adult | fantasy | retellings | romance
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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 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 love Aladdin. I love Disney. I love retellings. So one would imagine I would love a retelling of Disney’s Aladdin.
I did not.
The first 100 pages of A Whole New World were nothing more than a written version of the movie. The dialogue, events, and scenes were exactly the same. It was frustrating to sit there and read what I already know. Trust me, I am and have always been an Aladdin fanatic; I know all the lines and all the scenes by heart. If I wanted to relive Aladdin’s thieving acts, his encounter with Jasmine, his incarceration, and his journey through the cave, I WOULD HAVE WATCHED THE MOVIE.
I should have watched the movie.
Once surviving those 100 pages, the story began to spin off to a new direction, a dark direction, one direction. (Ha..ha..ha!)
What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?
All of Braswell’s characters, both the old and the new, had one major flaw: a lack of characterization. It’s as if Braswell did not bother to develop her characters because she expected the reader to use and be satisfied with prior knowledge. I was not satisfied. I wanted her to mold each character into her own and make them something new and refreshing to read about. Instead, they lacked depth and dimension. Although the new characters introduced were highly likable, they, too, lacked characterization, which was gravely disappointing.
I’ve always been a fan of Jasmine and Aladdin’s chemistry, but in this retelling, their relationship was altogether frivolous. It was instalove the second they laid eyes on each other. Although I do realize there was also instalove in the movie, Braswell, in this retelling, did not develop their relationship but instead simply stated that Jasmine and Aladdin were together and moved on with the plot. I was left there confused, thinking, “When did that happen?”
Though I hoped A Whole New World would accurately represent the culture and era in which the story was taking place, I can’t say I was surprised to see that it was westernized. It truly bothers me when cultures are misrepresented. To every author, I respectfully say this: If you’re going to write a book about something unknown and foreign, please research your subject in order to provide accurate information.
Did A Whole New World have evil elements as the synopses promised? Definitely. But was it dark? Not really… This book felt more like fan fiction rather than a retelling. It was juvenile and underdeveloped. I was expecting a twisted tale and instead got a Scooby Doo type of vibe.
One thing I did enjoy was the incorporation of feminism, politics, and inflation. This book seemed so promising and full of potential. Yet in the end, it left me in complete dissatisfaction; the solution to the conflict was vacuous and weak. I shamelessly admit that I was actually rooting for Jafar in the end… that‘s how bored I was.
Instead of dragging your face through the mud reading this book, just go watch the movie and have fun.
You can also find this review on Goodreads.
I’m Sara, a Colombian teenager with a never-ending enjoyment for reading. I’m a Netflix and Disney enthusiast and my monumental obsession is coffee.