Published by Disney Press on September 1st 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Fairy Tales & Folklore, General, Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic
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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.
A Whole New World, contrary to what I initially believed, is not really a retelling. Instead, it’s more of a fan fiction that recreates the Disney film for the first approx. 25% – down to copying the exact dialogue in parts – but then changes a single element of the plot to spin the story in a new direction.
Being a fan of the Disney movie, I found myself saying some of the lines before the characters. And, the small prologue aside, we once again meet Aladdin in the market when he is stealing bread and being chased by the Sultan’s guards – just like in the movie. He even says the same old line to Abu:
“All this for a loaf of bread?” Aladdin asked, exasperated.
It was actually painfully boring to read the parts that were an exact novelization of the film. Why bother when I can just watch the excellent Disney version instead?
But, yes, after about 25% the story changes when Jafar traps Aladdin underground (no magic lamp this time) and proceeds to take over and terrorize Agrabah with the genie. So, don’t things get better after that? In one word: nope.
The novel is contradictory in that it’s boring to read it having already watched the movie, but the story almost assumes the reader is familiar with the Disney characters. They are never developed beyond one-dimensional hero/villain/love interest archetypes. Jafar is nothing more than a pantomime antagonist. Aladdin has no personality beyond his desire to save everyone else.
Honestly, there is no reason to read this book. Haven’t watched the Disney movie? Then go watch that instead. Have watched the Disney movie? Then go watch it again. I struggle to believe either fans OR newbies will find anything to love here. It moves from darkness and violence into cartoonish territory and back again, never quite becoming anything more than a mess.
And one more thing. Like most annoying, uncultured white people, my experience with Near East/former Ottoman Empire cuisine equates to basically… baklava. But if I was going to write a novel set in that area, I would at least do a bit of research. It’s kind of cringy and embarrassing when a white person sets a book in the Near East and shows EVERYONE eating almost nothing but baklava. Just sayin’.