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A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale by Liz…
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A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale

by Liz Braswell

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Forget everything you know about the Disney version of this Middle Eastern tale. This isn't the Aladdin you think you know. This fun re-telling keeps some of the familiar pieces of the animated classic (think, clothes, monkeys, and the adorably short sultan) while spinning a new twist on the story. What would happen if instead of finding the genie and using his wishes to "get the girl", Aladdin had lost the lamp to the evil Jafar, who used the wishes to take over Agrabah? Together with a band of misfit street rats, Aladdin and Princess Jasmine must find a way to rescue the city they love from Jafar.

The echoes of the voices of beloved characters comes through in this re-telling to make familiar characters like Jafar and Genie come to life. The descriptions of the city of Agrabah are cinematic in detail and scope, and offer a more in depth description of the streets Aladdin has lived on his whole life. The reason for the four stars is the extreme over-use of italicized words (try going a page without seeing one) and the fact that some of the writing seemed underdeveloped. All in all I really enjoyed returning to a world near and dear to my heart, and the voice of the Genie came through to remind me how well Robin Williams developed the character. I liked the twists, and the addition of some new original characters in the story. ( )
  rebekahdinm | Jan 10, 2017 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

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.

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.

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. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | May 28, 2016 |
Review Originally Posted At: FictionForesight

In accordance with current FTC Guidelines, please let it be known this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Phenomenal Cosmic Potential, Itty Bitty Realization…2.5 Stars!

A darker take on a cherished tale that will leave you wishing for something more.

A couple of notes before the actual review. For one, I admittedly re-watched the movie and listened to the soundtrack in preparation for this review. Why you ask? Any excuse to watch and listen to Aladdin of course! Plus what better way to get into the appropriate mindset?

Also despite writing drafts of this review directly after finishing the book, I did not finalize it until nearly 6 months later. This wasn’t intentional, but I think it actually helps my review. It proved that in my case, this tale wasn’t memorable. I had to go through and reread the last 50 or so pages just to remember what the third and final wish was. For me a truly fantastic book is one that sticks with you long after “The End”.

A Quick Summary:

So this part is incredibly easy. If you are familiar with the Disney movie Aladdin, then you already know the first 25% of this book. It is literally an almost exact novelization of the movie script, down to the inflection of the words. In fact if you are familiar with the movie, I’m fairly certain you’ll be saying (and singing) all the lines in the voices of the cast. It’ll be difficult for your eyes to keep up, when you already know all the words.

What makes this novel “unique” is what comes after that first quarter. What happens when it’s Jafar, instead of Aladdin, that rubs the lamp. Does fate still hold true? Or does Jafar win out in the end? What will become of Jasmine and Aladdin now that the eponymous story takes a sinister turn? For that matter what happens to all of our friends from Agrabah? This is that “Twisted Tale”.

The Good:

It started as it usually does for me… with cover love. I am an Aladdin lover through and through and this cover just worked for me. Actually, both of the covers worked. Before this one was finalized there was another placeholder cover with a genie bottle. But this finalized cover…nice! The portrait of Agrabah inside the picture of Jasmine, and that distinctly stylistic Arabian Nights looking font; just awesome. I knew, regardless of whether it was good or bad, I was going to buy it because it would look good in my library. I’m not even ashamed to admit it. Then you add-on the synopsis and lo and behold I was ensnared.

The plot wasn’t actually bad in description. In fact, the idea of it had me and many other readers I know ogling over the book. We were practically drooling trying to get our hands on it. And the noise that came out of my mouth when I found out I was approved for an advanced copy… wasn’t exactly manly.

You know despite what people say about the first quarter of the book, I really don’t think it detracted much to big Aladdin fans. It was essentially that first bit that got you back into the world of Agrabah. It’s that story you’ve heard a thousand times but could still find some enjoyment in. Not to mention, those who are truly that familiar with it should take next to no time reading it. I say enjoy it.

The Bad:

I admit, I was blinded by cover love. I should have just listened to the merchant:

“Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts” – Merchant (Aladdin)

Of course he was originally referring to essentially the exact opposite, but the notion still works.

Here’s the thing, even though every fiber of my being wanted to like this story, wanted to be submerged into this new tale, I just couldn’t. For me the characters kept going back and forth from the cartoon versions to the new versions Braswell tried to create. I understand that because circumstances changed, the characters changed with them. That’s as it should be. But when you start out with characters whom we know all too well, and then do little (personality wise) with them, how am I to be expected to change my perspective? I just couldn’t help but see through this paper-thin outline that was laid out before me.

Not only that, but I couldn’t picture the characters saying the things they said. Yes some of it sounded like them, but at best it was more of imitation then the real deal. I think most of us out there will try and use Robin Williams’ voice when the genie speaks. It came to me without thinking. But the lines that Braswell wrote just fell flat. I couldn’t picture him really saying those things. So I couldn’t really get into it as much as I wish I could have.

Also, dark has it’s place for sure. I am not one to argue against making a story darker than the original (or commonly accepted versions). For instance I think Alice by Christina Henry was done fantastically well; albeit much darker than most are used to. However, for this particular story, this was a point of contention. Yes I understand Jafar is manic and crazy; and yes I understand that in a novelization he would be much more sinister than in a children’s tale (despite my thinking that largely that’s what this was anyways), but this just didn’t feel right. Bouncing back and forth between cartoon and young-adult felt like going from in color to black and white. I don’t know, just quite odd.

Oh and what you did to my Carpet… for shame. That one scarred the 7-year-old in me pretty good.

Overall:

Here’s the thing. I wanted something that I should have known I wasn’t going to get. I wanted more of that beloved world I grew up watching and re-watching countless times. I wanted more of that amazing and everlasting soundtrack that I sang to unendingly (and admittedly still do!). I wanted more of the feels that Aladdin, the Genie and the whole gang gave to an entire generation of kids and adults alike! I went into this book unknowingly demanding something I doubt any author could have sufficiently given; a story of equal or greater resonance than the one we all grew up with.

So could this have been done better? Yes, absolutely. There’s no question there. I wish the story would have gone deeper into the minds of all of my favorite characters. I wish it would have provided back story that would have connected me even further to a world I already loved. I wish I could have gotten even a glimpse of Robin Williams’ superlative Genie, if only to see my childhood friend one more time. But alas, there were no genies left to grant my wishes.

All in all, is it what you’ll be hoping for? No. It’s a pale attempt to imitate and expand upon a Disney classic. Unfortunately I think the tale we’re all looking for is lost somewhere in the Cave of Wonders, still waiting for the “Diamond in the Rough” to do it proper justice. That’s not to say that this story is a complete waste of time. It’s a swift read that offers somewhat of an interesting twist on a timeless tale. If you’re like me, an Aladdin nut, then you’ll probably read this anyways. Just be forewarned. If nothing else, the cover is quite lovely.

AND I must say, despite my disappointment with this particular book, I am still going to be checking out the next Disney classic Braswell “twists”. Everyone gets the jitters out their first time around, maybe Sleeping Beauty will help to liven things up.

(www.FictionForesight.com) ( )
  FictionForesight | Apr 26, 2016 |
This twisted tale is based on Aladdin, and Aladdin doesn’t get to have the lamp and make his wishes. He does meet Jasmine, and they become friends and conspirators because…Jafar is the one who ended up with the lamp! And of course, his wishes do not include good for all. Pretty good twist on the original story. Since the publisher is Disney, I noticed (because I have seen the movie about a million times) a lot of the same dialogue in the book. I liked the twist of Aladdin not getting the lamp, but in some ways, I wanted a little more depth than what was there. ( )
  litgirl29 | Jan 11, 2016 |
Originally posted on Tales to Tide You Over

Even before Disney took a hand in it, I’ve been a fan of the Aladdin story. It’s what led me to pick this book up. At first, though, A Whole New World seemed a pure retelling of the Disney version. While the description is strong, there are limitations to the written medium that meant the focus felt off. Certain types of interactions don’t translate well from the visual medium and would have done better to be replaced with scenes that drew on the qualities of a written version.

I saw enough strengths to keep going, but my expectations had been lowered.

Right about then, though, this story takes on a life of its own, first with small deviations and then a whole cloth rewrite that really works. It converts a story softened for small children with humor to replace intensity into one for older teens and young adults with tangible stakes and moral dilemmas all the way to a completely rewritten ending that makes sense and is true to the story. Though there are nods to the humor of the movie and the love story is at a similar level, the political, moral, economic, and social aspects are brought to life with sometimes horrifying detail.

The other aspect borrowed from the movie that didn’t translate well in my opinion is the way the text is peppered with oddly modern words and concepts. From the genie, they make him seem not bound to mortal time, which allows for humor, but doesn’t fit the rest of the story, and when these concepts come from other characters it broke a very strong illusion of a pre-industrial, magic-enhanced, Arabic world.

At the same time, the recognition of personhood in non-humans is beautifully done, first with pets and then both the genie and flying carpet. Real growth moments exist for Jasmine and Aladdin in the story, but she’s the one who goes through a lot of slaps in the face at first and even throughout the story as illusions born of isolation come crashing down. She has to consider the real people who are affected by decisions made in the palace.

There is no question about who is evil embodied, not with Jafar as a power hungry, insane wizard attempting to win by force what can only be earned. But there are many gray areas as well, with lessons to be learned among the community that comes together to oppose Jafar. This isn’t a strict hero/heroine story though Aladdin and Jasmine are the clear leads. They don’t win simply by out-talking Jafar as in the movie, nor is the effort to end his evil a magically simple one.

People die. Good people, bad people, and everyone in between. And those who don’t die must face harsh decisions between compliance and starvation while the costs of inflation are clearly illustrated from the perspectives of rich and poor alike.

Ultimately, community is the only hope for two people who have been alone, if for different reasons, most of their lives. Even Aladdin and Jasmine face choices where they must define where the lines are that cannot be crossed, and they don’t always choose well. They are not infallible, and struggle with both the costs and the reality of even their wise choices.

This is most definitely a mature version of the Disney story that, while providing a fun, intense, and evocative tale, also demands the reader choose sides and contemplate where those uncrossable lines lie for themselves. This makes the story deeper than at first appearance and well worth the read.

P.S. I received this title from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review. ( )
  MarFisk | Oct 6, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 148470729X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Wed, 01 Jul 2015 16:49:30 -0400)

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