A History of Glitter and Blood Hannah Moskowitz

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.

 

Book Review

I received a free digital copy of this book in advance from Netgalley. This did not affect my review in any way.

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.

Skulls 2

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You can also find this review on Goodreads.

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About Sara

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.

Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | all of Sara’s posts →

 

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37 thoughts on “Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

  1. I actually just rewatched Aladdin a couple days ago, so what a coincidence! (A sad one, but yeah.) This sounded SO COOL when I read the synopsis, but then … splat. Whoops. To be fair, the insta-love in the movie was semi-justified, because Aladdin saw Jasmine give fruit to a kid and Jasmine saw Aladdin’s cunning, so it’s not just “ooh they’re hot”.

    Gah, this is just sad. Dark retellings are the best when pulled off well. (To be honest, I have read pretty killer fanfiction before. So.)

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  2. *cries* I WANTED TO LOVE THIS BOOK! Ever since I caught whiff of it months ago, I was awaiting the release and now that it’s almost here, the reviews popping up are not saying what I wanted them to say at all… *sniff* I hate it when this happens. The exact same thing happened with Red Queen as well.

    I will still probably read the book but I’ll have the movie ready just in case my opinion on the book is the same as yours! I WANT TO LIKE THIS BOOK!!

    Great review and sorry you didn’t like it!
    ~Fari 0:) @ My Little Corner for Books

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    1. I almost cried, too! I was so excited for a retelling of Aladdin and it wasn’t anything near what I was expecting.

      Read it. I’d love to know what you think!

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  3. I also like retellings, but if you’re just reading what was already in the movie is just frustrating. It would have been better if she made the characters a little bit different, maybe added more flair, or made them a bit cunning or evil, or smarter. I would usually give books a chance, but I don’t think I would this book, because it’s the same as the movie.

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  4. Well this is unfortunate… I need to read this soon and I’m a little disappointed by the reviews I’ve read recently. Maybe I will just go watch the movie instead. (Okay, actually I did re-watch recently, haha). Sorry to hear this book didn’t do it for you, better luck next book!
    Thanks for the review, Sara.

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  5. Yikes, sounds like this one must’ve been a struggle to get through! It sounded like it had so much potential, too. There’s nothing worse than a book whose synopsis promises dramatically more than it delivers (I’d rather have a bare-bones synopsis and be excited a lot more by the story itself). Ah, well, there’s plenty of other Middle East-inspired books coming out lately, so I think I’ll try those instead. Great review, and thanks for letting us know to skip this one!

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  6. You know, it is sad when your two star review is actually one of the most positive reviews I have read of this book! Ugh, I am sad that it ended up being such a disappointment! I love the theme and culture of Aladdin, but without strong characters and a fresh plot, why even bother? Sorry this one was so rough, hopefully your next book will be MUCH better! Great review, I will definitely not be reading this one!

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  7. *CRIES* I was so happy to hear there’s an adaptation of Aladdin, then the reviews started rolling in and now I am just relieved I didn’t request it through NG. I dislike fairy tale retelling that completely misses the point by copy & pasting the old story – and skip out on all the magic, what a waste of paper! I have fingers and toes crossed that The Forbidden Wish will be better than this one. Especially with regards to correct cultural presentation *shakes fist*

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  8. I’ll admit I’m still rather curious about this one! But I think I’ll have to lower my expectations of this one, haha. Like Aentee, I actually did consider requesting this one through NetGalley… but eh, rather glad I didn’t. But I will, I think, borrow it from the library when I have the chance.

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  9. Oh, God, and to think I was excited for this book at the beginning of this year… I am still curious about it, even though all my friends have hated it. If I ever read it, I don’t think it’s gonna be anytime soon. Great review, Sara!

    Like

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