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I Belong


Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

A Whole New WorldTitle: A Whole New World

Author: Liz Braswell

Genre: YA Fantasy/Retellings

Series: A Twisted Tale (Book #1)

Publication Date: September 1, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 384 Pages

ISBN-10: 148470729X (Disney Press)

ISBN-13: 978-1484707296 (Disney Press)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis:

What if Aladdin had never found the lamp? This first book in the A Twisted Tale line will explore a dark and daring version of Disney’s 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.

Quick & Dirty: An Aladdin retelling with a darker twist.

Opening Sentence: A high white moon cast its light on the city below as brightly as the sun was said to shine in northern countries.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I adore retellings and A Whole New World was certainly an action packed and entertaining read but with a darker perspective. BUT I couldn’t ignore the feeling that there was something missing. Although I haven’t watched or read Disney’s Aladdin for many, many years, the first half of this book felt like an almost exact remake. I expected there to be something massively different to set it apart but the differences only emerged about halfway through.

“…Rats, I was completely alone. Before I ran away, my closest friend was a tiger.”
Aladdin laughed softly. “Before I met you, my closest friend was a monkey.” He kissed her on the forehead. “We’re quite a pair.”

At first I wondered why I was continuing to read the story since I could guess almost every scene. There wasn’t anything spectacularly original, which left me feeling disappointed. I have found that other retellings refer to the original story, with general likenesses of main characters, but there is always something to set the tale apart. For most of A Whole New World, this wasn’t the case.

Despite this obvious problem, the story was entertaining and a quick read. It helped that I hadn’t read the original Aladdin for some time so it was a refreshing reminder of a childhood favourite.

Morgiana was only bleeding a little and carried a short sword in each hand – plus an extra scimitar in her right.
“Took you long enough,” Aladdin said accusingly.
“You said ‘no killing,’” she said, shrugging. “Stuff like that takes time.”

I enjoyed the focus on the ‘street rats’, especially Morgiana because of her laughable comments. The characters were well developed and pretty much exactly how I remembered them. I would have preferred a greater focus on my favourite, the genie, but alas that was another downside to this story.

Jasmine tilted her head, looking at him. “How are you holding up?” she asked gently.
“Oh, as well as can be expected,” he said, waving his hand. “Considering I’m, like, the last of my race, enslaved to an insane, power hungry, evil-did I say evil?-dictator with delusions of godhood…who won’t even make his final insane third wish and let me off the hook from all this. Maybe my next master will be someone nicer. Like the sadistic tyrant of a kingdom of vampires. Or something.”

Jaffar is the evil villain we all love to hate. He stayed true to that in this story and yes, he was definitely beyond cruel as well as crazy. With his powers as a sorcerer and the genie at his side, he was virtually indestructible!

I liked the romance too; Aladdin and Jasmine have the immediate chemistry that is seen in the classic tale. I loved Jasmine’s fierceness and fight for change. There is that element of darkness to everything but I liked that, it made the story at least a little different!

The girl looked horrified.
“They’re all just pretending to be poor?”
Aladdin chuckled wryly. “No, they’re not pretending. They’re not pretending to be poor, or shoeless, or homeless, or starving. All of that is very, very real. But sometimes it takes costumes and makeup and playacting for people to see the truth that is right under their noses.”

Overall, I’m afraid that A Whole New World felt a lot like a reminder of an old, well-known world.

Notable Scene:

“Don’t let life’s unfairness, don’t let how poor you are decide who you are. You choose who you will be, Aladdin. Will you be a hero who looks after the weak and powerless? Will you be a thief? Will you be a beggar – or worse? It’s up to you, not the things – or people – around you. You can choose to be something more.”

He nodded, lip trembling. He was too old to cry. He was.

A Twisted Tale Series:

1. A Whole New World

2. Once Upon a Dream

3. As Old As Time (September 6, 2016)

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FTC Advisory: Disney Press provided me with a copy of A Whole New World. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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