24 April, 2018

[Review] A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Series: Twisted Tales Series #1
Release Date: 14 March, 2017
Publisher: Disney Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Fairy Tales & Folklore / Adaptations
ISBN: 9781484707296
Edition: audiobook
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Review Written: 18 February, 2018
Summary: What if Aladdin never found the lamp? This first book in a new Disney YA series will explore a dark and daring version of Aladdin.

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.

See more by Liz Braswell at her Website.

I was intrigued by this series when I first spotted the Beauty and the Beast variation. Since there wasn’t an audio version of it on overdrive, I decided to start with the first book in the series, A Whole New World. This simplistic tale is one that might have plagued Disney fans for a long while, what if Aladdin had never found the lamp. Or more accurately, what if Jafar had been successful in taking the lamp from Aladdin after tricking him into the Cave of Wonders.

Most of the beginnings of the book were the same, our two main characters are still dealing with the struggles. Aladdin is still poor, with no father in the picture and his mother dead after many years of waiting for his father to return. Jasmine is still struggling with her lack of power over her suitor choice and wishing her father would take more interest in their citizens instead of playing with his toys in the palace. The story begins to differ after Aladdin’s arrest, though most of it follows the book, Aladdin is tricked by Jafar in disguise to leave the palace dungeon and enter the Cave of Wonders to retrieve the magic lamp.

Jafar successfully snatches the lamp from Aladdin’s hands as he starts to exit, trapping Aladdin under the sands to presumably starve to death. Somehow he does manage to escape with the help of the magic carpet and Abu. Upon returning to Agrabah, Aladdin finds the town topsy-turvy. The old Sultan is dead, having been pushed off a balcony in front of his kingdom by Jafar during a speech, and Jasmine is set to marry Jafar so that he can have the throne by the proper means besides brute force.

Jasmine however has escaped and is trying to lay low among the citizens of her city. This is proving difficult until her path crosses with Aladdin again and the pair approach the thieves guild to help try and take the city back. Things tend to be rocky and obviously don’t go their way most of the time. While the story progresses fairly quickly, the story line continues to go down hill. The carpet is captured and cut into shreds to be used on the guards under Jafar’s power. There’s zombies for some reason?

In the end, Aladdin and Jasmine are victorious, but so is Jafar in a way since his final wish is to rid the world of magic. In this, Jasmine and Aladdin can’t just use the magic of the Genie to right the wrongs of Jafar. It’s never really explained how Jafar got around using all 3 wishes quickly, since he has the Genie doing multiple things for him throughout the book.

All in all, my feelings on this book are rather subpar. The storyline wasn’t different enough from the movie to really provide any new details beyond a few names for Aladdin’s friends on the street. The story was full of plot holes and simply left me wanting more for lack of anything else. It’s a good middle grade book for children who won’t question too much why things progressed in a strange manner.

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