Rating: 2/5 stars
Series: Twisted Tales, Book 1
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Retelling, Fiction, Romance
I find myself being severely disappointed with this book. While I’m a huge Disney fan and have so far enjoyed the Twisted Tales books that I’ve read, I did not enjoy this take on Aladdin. While I believe that Reflections was an amazing reinvention of the classic Mulan story, I found A Whole New World lost most of what I loved about the Disney’s Aladdin story.
I understand that all of the Twisted Tales stories are a darker take on the Disney tales, but I did not understand why a bunch of things happened in this story. I was looking forward to reading a darker Aladdin, to see what changes could be made to make this story new. However, many of the changes that Braswell made were ones that didn’t make sense to me.
Sure, there were certain key plot points that greatly affected the story, like Jafar actually being mad/”crazy” and Aladdin not escaping the Cave of Wonders with the lamp. Those I understood. But it was more things on the character level, like with Jasmine or the Carpet or even Rasoul, that I didn’t see progressing the plot in any meaningful way.
Looking at this book as its own entity and not as a direct comparison to the Disney movie(s), I don’t find myself liking it any more. In fact, looking at it as its own entity, I find that the plot makes even less sense to me. Sure, the main thread of the plot runs in a pretty straight line, but the events that occur in order to get you from point A to point B don’t necessarily connect in my mind.
As well, instead of the world building expanding my understanding of Agrabah, I find myself being more confused than before. While I understand there are slums – as it’s always been a plot point that Aladdin was born a Street Rat – the way the slums work in this story don’t actually make sense to me. The ways in which people interact with their surroundings and each other appears to be written out of convenience for a given scene, not based on a conscious layout of the town. It could be that the town itself is supposed to make no sense, but I didn’t get this feel from reading the book.
Probably the only thing I enjoyed about this new take was getting to meet Aladdin’s childhood friends Duban and Morgiana. I loved seeing them and their antics when we briefly experienced them as children, but even more so their antics as adults. Seeing Aladdin’s life as a Street Rat more, and understanding the people he interacted with, helped me finish this story I might not have otherwise finished.
Overall, it’s easy to tell that this was the first book in the “series”. While each book is a standalone story, I feel as if this book is the weakest. I’m glad to be able to say that this book does not represent Braswell’s writing as a whole – her writing has definitely gotten stronger as she wrote more of this series. While I wouldn’t recommend reading this book, I would recommend picking up one of the other Twisted Tales books.
If you’ve read this book already, how did you feel about it? If you enjoyed this read, what were some of the parts you liked? Was there anything about this book that you didn’t like?