I would like to thank Netgalley, Disney Press and the author – Liz Braswell for a free digital uncorrected galley proof in exchange for my honest opinion.
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell is the first book in A Twisted Tale series and is expected to be published on 1st of September this year. According to Disney, it will appear in the shops on 9th of September, but you can pre-order it. It has been highly anticipated and promoted as a fairy tale retelling and although the book is not out yet, it already have had reviews from people who dislike it. This book is very anticipated, so I feel privileged to have the opportunity to tell you what exactly I thought of it.
Story is about Aladdin meeting a girl he likes and finding out that she is a princess, but only few moments after that his life spins and suddenly he is in jail after which just as suddenly he is in the middle of desert trapped in a cave and desperate to get out. The story unfolds and Aladdin finds out that the city he has known has changed in the time of his absence and he is shocked when he finds out that it is his responsibility that it happened and tries to fix it with a help of friends.
First of all, I would like to start with the fact that I have never seen Aladdin the movie nor have I read any stories about him. It seems like this should be a disclaimer to whatever I say afterwards as so many reviews start with statement that the first quarter of the book is exactly like the film and seems like a fanfiction – so, here it goes – I have never seen it hence I can never say that. I am in this privileged situation where I can assess this book as a separate piece of literature by the author and be almost free of expectations and prejudice about this book.
It has been promoted as a book that will change one little thing about a known story and will create a completely different story. And as far as I understand, each book in the series will be a different story adapted to this new twist.
I did not like the story, it seemed aimless and had no personality. And, the characters… there was almost no description of the characters at all. I have no idea what traits they have (except for some stupid decisions and some foolish blindness), how exactly they look, not to even mention what they think. The characters were not developed at all, they were just names to me, with rare sparks of thoughts that were showing up sometimes.
And from what was written there – both Aladdin and Jasmine seemed patronizing, belittling everything around them (for example Aladdin just orders the carpet to do what he wants. He doesn’t ask, he orders.)
And Jafar. He has some love and childhood issues which are mentioned somewhat, but never explained, we don’t find out what kind of trauma he experienced to seek for what he is wishing to the Genie, which would be the reason for his madness and thirst, but author never goes into that, so he basically is just evil because he is evil.
The story starts the same as the film (at least that’s what everyone says) and is really good and interesting, but the moment, the twist starts (I actually remember thinking of Aladdin as an idiot,when the twist started, because it was the first really stupid decision he made), it just goes downhill and the reason for it is because no one in this book has a clear goal (except for Jafar, I guess). It feels like we are just shuffling in the dark, while Jafar is making some kind of zombie Patrols walking around, which are giving everyone nightmares and fear, it seemed like it was supposed to be a Nazgul or Dementor thing, but it wasn’t described at all – all they did was just walked, no emotions or feelings, except fear were ever mentioned. But wait! Unfortunately it gets worse. Because with these soulless Patrols is not enough to Jafar and for some reason, he decides to make a ghoul army as well. This is the moment the book lost me completely. I was still trying to find reasons and good ideas, but this was just utterly stupid. I hated every single thing about those ghouls.
There were few nice things though. First of all – the writing itself wasn’t bad. What’s written – was, but the writing was fine. The only thing I have to say about writing that is bad, is that I didn’t like, the jumps from the scenes, almost in a movie-like way.
And second of all – oh my – the third wish just broke my world, it was a fantastic idea and I was so sad that the build up to it was so poor. It’s great and it explains magic and it’s history in a new way. I thought that it was fantastic, but the fact that I needed to go through a boring book to get to it, of course wasn’t very cool.
There were many little places that the reader might say things like – ‘That is not possible’ or ‘Nobody would survive that’, or ‘That person would be a lot more damaged after this event’, but as this is Disney, we all forgive that and never, which I join in.
The book is advertised as a young adult book – 12 years up, but I think that it is too dark and violent for children of this age.
After long, long consideration, I gave this book one star on my goodreads page. I was thinking about two stars, but when I remember how bored I was while reading it, I just cannot get myself to give more. I would recommend this book to those people who are really excited when reading the summary of the book because the plot is based on it. If you are not interested in it, don’t read it, I don’t see how person who doesn’t love the premise described in summary (on the back of the book, not the one in my blog), would love the book.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Is this on your to-read list? And most of all – do you think that, if I would have seen the original Aladdin film, would I feel different about the story?
Let me know in the comments bellow and I’ll talk to you soon, my little owlets!