Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Featured imageDisney has been all about re-imagining their classics lately.  In the last few years they have told the story of Sleeping Beauty through the eyes of the villain, Maleficent.  Made a live action movie of Cinderella and has Beauty and the Beast coming out next year.  Not to mention, the show Once Upon a Time, which is nothing more but a chance for all Disney’s characters meet each and hang out.  Disney has now taken their new initiative to rewrite all of stories to books. The Twisted Tale series is a  new series who’s aim is to ask “What would happen if this or that didn’t happen?  Aladdin is the first of their classics to get a new literary spin.  What would happen if Aladdin didn’t end up with the lamp but Jafar did?  How does that change Aladdin, Jasmine or the Genie? Talk about a plot twist.  

For fans of the movie, the beginning will be very familiar.  Scene after scene and even soe of the dialogue is the same.  A few minor changes though.  First we meet Aladdin’s mom, who pushes Aladdin to be more then just a street rat.  (This little backstory is also hinted in the Musical, currently on Broadway)  And the second, Aladdin has some friends, outside of Abu.  Other then that, it was pretty much the same and well kind of boring.  I know this story.  I was promised something new and that’s what I eventually got.  Once we reached the part of the story, where Jafar, in disguise, convinces Aladdin to go in the Cave of Wonders, things really take a turn.  Abu doesn’t steal back the lamp from Jafar and thus Jafar uses controls the Genie and takes over Agrabah.  Of all the characters, the Genie is changed the most.  This is not Robin Williams Genie.  This is a new one, who as Jafar as his master, isn’t allowed to crack jokes or be the true heart of the story.  Of all of them, it’s the one character I missed the most.  It’s understandable.  How does one write Robin Williams?  How does one harness, his raw power and energy on the page?  I don’t think you can.  It wouldn’t serve the story anyway.  The Genie wouldn’t be the same under Jafar as he was when he was with Aladdin.  So what about Aladdin and Jasmine?  They become revolutionaries.  They both lead the people of Agrabah in a rebellion against Jafar’s new regime.  It also gives them a lot more to do then they had in the movie.  Aladdin was always clever.  Using his street smarts to get him out of trouble.  We get to see more of that here.  As for Jasmine, if we are being honest, didn’t have much to do in the final act of the movie.  We see that she is strong willed and has a mind of her own when she escapes the Palace walls.  She will not be told what to do or forced into anything either but after the song “A Whole New World” she takes a backseat to Aladdin. True, the movie is about him but really, does Jasmine seem like the type to sit around to be rescued? Here we get to see the leader she will become.  She takes all the fearlessness and channels it into helping her people.  It’s great to see a Disney Princess be more then just a Disney Princess.

As far as retelling’s go, it’s pretty solid.  It has many of the same elements that made us fall in love but expanding on it.  I thought it was an interesting take on what could have happen.  It wasn’t everything I hoped it would be.  The ending was pretty bitter sweet for some characters but it was a solid effort.  Disney fans will definitely dig it.  The next book in the series will focus on Sleeping Beauty and what would happen if Aurora didn’t wake up from loves first kiss?  Now that sounds interesting.

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