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Disney Book Group
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A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale (Twisted Tale, A) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 384 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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|Age Level: 12 - 18|
|Grade Level: 7 - 12|
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I will say that the reader needs to go into this book with an open mind about Aladdin. The book quite clearly states it is a twisted fairytale and you do get that. The majority of reviewers on Amazon complained that it doesn't resemble Disney's Aladdin at all. Yes, the first 23% of the book did follow the movie pretty well with some added background but then it goes off into this glorious tangent of a tale that anybody who enjoys a good variation of a classic story would enjoy. I believe my favorite part of the book was when Aladdin thinks he's hallucinating Abu and the magic carpet in the Cave of Wonders. If you give this book a chance you get immersed in the world of an Agrabah in the midst of a civil war. There are new characters that add to the story and old characters that get character development that they didn't get in the movie.
I did not want to put this book down once I started to read it. Unfortunately I had to sleep and go to work. This book is a wonderful addition to any library and I will be picking up book two of this series once it's released.
Rating: 4½ stars out of 5
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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