Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Whole New World by Liz BraswellA Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Series: Twisted Tales #1
Published by Disney Press on September 1, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: the publisher
Buy on Amazon

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.

When I first picked this book up, I was hesitant. Almost all of my closest blogging friends DNF’d it roughly halfway in. I was super, super excited for this book, so that worried me a LOT. But the premise sounded intriguing. I ended up reading this in roughly three sit-downs, reading 100+ pages each time. Though I struggled with certain aspects of the book and with my final rating, I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would.

If you’ve seen the Disney animated movie, then you could almost skip the first 25% of this book. That’s probably the biggest complaint I’ve seen from reading other reviews. But I didn’t mind that so much because, though it was very similar, there was a little more to it than just a word-for-word of the movie. Certain parts were more “grown up” than the Disney movie – grittier and slightly darker. And once the book veers off into the “What if” portion of things, it gets intriguing.

The characters were all a bit flat and underdeveloped. This bothered me because it made it difficult to connect with them, but I kept picturing them as the characters from the movie and that helped a little. Also, we got to learn a bit more about some of the characters. We saw Aladdin as a young kid, met his mother and learned more about his background. We learned a bit more about the Genie and his backstory. We also saw a different side of Raoul, the meanest, nastiest palace guard in the movie. We see that he knew Aladdin and his mother and he actually has a soft spot for Aladdin. I wish there had been more scenes with Jafar, since this alternate “what if” storyline was supposed to be about him and what happens when he gets his hands on the lamp.

There were a couple characters whose fates were… unsettling… Because they were so beloved in the movie. But if I take a step back from the movie and view the book as its own thing, I get it. The people of Agrabah rebel against Jafar, creating a civil war – and in war, there are casualties. Still, it stung.

The pacing in this book was odd. One the one hand, it was slow and if felt like there were huge sections of the book that didn’t have a lot of action. On the other hand, as I mentioned earlier, I read roughly 100 pages each time I sat down to read. I think the book could have been a bit shorter, honestly.

My feelings regarding the ending are VERY mixed. Initially, I was very upset with something that happened. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was actually very fitting and it sort of (very loosely) paralleled the movie. Even though I’m still not entirely happy about it, I’ve come to terms with it.

I think the most important thing to do when reading this book is this: Push the movie out of your head. If you focus on the movie and sit there going, “Well, this is exactly like the movie” or “this deviates way too much from the movie!” then you’re going to drive yourself insane. And you won’t enjoy the book at all. If you try to treat it like its own entity, then you’ll likely enjoy it more.

Overall, though the characters were underdeveloped and the pacing was a bit slow, I found this to be a fun read. It could have been an amazing book – had the characters experienced more growth, had the pacing been a bit faster, had certain characters not suffered certain fates – but it was still an enjoyable book. As a big fan of fairy tales, it was intriguing to see the alternative events and subsequent consequences and outcome.

Despite not enjoying A Whole New World as much as I would have liked, I’m still very excited for this new series and I can’t wait to see which story gets “Twisted” next! I’m kind of hoping it will be The Little Mermaid, since that’s one of my absolute favorite Disney movies! Though Beauty and the Beat would be a fun “Twisted Tale,” as would The Lion King and Mulan.