An Epic Re-imagining of Aladdin Falls Flat

A Whole New WorldA Whole New World by Liz Braswell
Series: Twisted Tales #1
Published by: Disney Hyperion on September 1, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Retelling
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley
Book Details
Rating: Did Not Finish

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.

A Whole New World started off painfully similar to the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I adore the movie Aladdin, but I want something different from a book. I don’t want a book to feel like someone is sitting there, watching the movie, and describing every scene and regurgitating every line of dialogue.

  • I want a slower story.
  • I want more character development.
  • I want more details and expansion.

A Whole New World didn’t have those things.

The first 25% was the movie word-for-word

Entire conversations were straight from the movie. I could visualize the movie playing out in my head as I read through the pages. Scenes unfolded in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY.

Finally, at the 25% mark, things took a different turn. This was the “what if” point, where the book finally branched off from the movie. But sadly, that didn’t make it better.

The story was hollow and the characters were cardboard

Movies are different from books. They tend to move at a faster pace and have more insta-love. There are only 1-2 hours for everything to happen in a movie (including love) instead of the DAYS you can spend reading a book. Things happen fast because they have to, and on a screen it feels okay for some reason. There’s totally insta-love in Aladdin, but it doesn’t bother me because it’s a movie and I can see and feel the cute sappy chemistry (and I love it).

But I feel like books should be different. They tend to be slower since they have more time and space to expand on.. everything, pretty much. But A Whole New World felt exactly like the movie, and in book form it didn’t feel okay. It felt hollow.

  • The characters were poorly fleshed out (if at all).
  • Jafar was pretty much 100% telling. We never even get to know the guy, just hear about all these bad things. But it never felt personal or scary since we never knew him. He felt like a background character, even though he was the main villain.
  • Everything was glazed over too quickly. I didn’t have enough time to get attached… to anything.
  • I rolled my eyes at the insta-love.
  • The whole book felt more middle grade than YA.

I thought this was meant for older readers?

My interpretation of this new series was a re-imagining of Disney stories for an older (but young adult) audience. I LOOOVED that idea! But A Whole New World felt more like middle grade. It was lacking a certain intensity or epicness to make it an “older” young adult book, if you know what I mean.

There was nothing driving the characters. There was no passion. No development. It was just, there’s a bad guy and our band of teenagers will SAVE THE WORLD! Bleh.

The Verdict


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    1. Yeah the dialogue and scenes were IDENTICAL. I love the movie, but that’s not how a retelling should go.

  1. I’m not 100% familiar with the movie, but I totally agree with you on the fact that insta-love in movies just work out a lot better than in books. And why would I want a play-by-play of the movie in a book if I can just watch the movie? THAT MAKES NO SENSE. Glad you shared that aspect with us. And the characters seem boring as heck. That’s really awkward that this “older YA” felt like a middle grade. I’m most likely going to skip this one. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts, Ashley!!

    Jen @ Books and Other Happy Ever Afters recently posted: Get Excited: Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders – Excerpt & Giveaway
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jen. 🙂 I’m really disappointed because I feel like there was so much potential here!

  2. Whuuut? I actually hadn’t heard about this book until just now (reading your review), say what? And copy-pasting the movie… no go for me. That just seems wrong and would frustrate me to no end. Hollow characters as well, that means I’m not even going to try this. Characters make or brake a story for me.

    1. Same here! Even if the rest of the book is epic (which this wasn’t), if the characters are bad then I won’t be able to enjoy it.

    1. Yeah I do not like this cover. It looks like the cover of a memoir that’s required reading in high school.

  3. *groans* this definitely sounds like a story I wouldn’t enjoy either! And really? The whole beginning was word-for-word from the movie? I wouldn’t only be disappointed, but a little angry as well, I think, Ashley.
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. So disappointed! Everyone’s been saying pretty much the same thing – I have it for review, but I’m really not looking forward to reading it anymore. Maybe I’ll try to read it along with my 11-year-old – her MG perspective might make me like it more.

  5. I am really sad about how this book has turned out to be! I was quite excited when I heard about this, since I am a huge fan of Aladdin – I used to have a massive crush on him as a child:) – and I was looking forward to read more books from the Persian culture after reading Wrath. But looks like everyone is disappointed with this book!

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