Saturday, September 5, 2015

Review: A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

First, thanks to Disney Book Group and Netgalley for allowing me to read an egalley of this title.  I have to admit that while I have "seen" the movie Aladdin, I've never really sat and watched it all the way through.  It came out when I was a teacher, so an adult, so the only time I ever watched it was when we showed it to a group of students as the end of a field trip day reward.  Nevertheless, I feel like this book was pretty darn close to the exact story. Enough so that instead of my usual summary of the story in my own words, I'm going to post the Goodreads summary, and then below that I will tell what I liked and didn't like about it.

Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?

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.

So, as I said, I've not for sure watched the movie that I could say I know it that well, but really so much of this book seemed to be basically what I remember from the movie.  As they said, the main difference is who summoned the genie first.   So while this definitely changed the story in ways, overall it basically seemed to be the same general idea.  It's not that it wasn't a good read, just that I wasn't blown away, and didn't feel anything was really that new or original based on what I remember of the story.  And for someone like me, who hadn't really ever known the story that well, that disappointed me.  It should have been pretty easy to make it seem different, I would think, as so many other retellings of stories I've never read, or stories I did know and remember well, have done in the past.  

Overall this is not a book that I would go out of my way to recommend, although I would be sure to list it with other retellings for people who wanted suggestions.  It just wouldn't be on my list of go-to books to suggest to my high school students, or other teen readers.