Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

Title: A Whole New World
Series: Twisted Tales (#1)
Author: Liz Braswell
From: Netgalley
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 1st September 2015
Challenges: 2015 Netgalley & Edelweiss Challenge, 2015 New Release Challenge
Links: Goodreads - Amazon

What is Jafar got the lamp from Aladdin? When that happens, Princess Jasmine knows that her fate is even worse than being married to a man against her will, and is determined to do something about it. As soon as Aladdin saw Jasmine he was captivated, and having dug himself up from the dessert he decides that he'll do anything to save her and to save Agrabah from the evil sorcerer who is now Sultan.

Wow. I'm honestly not too sure where to start with this review. I know several other bloggers who have read this book and some have been on the side of not liking it and some have liked it. Which in itself made me curious. I'm not sure I'd have felt the same about this book if I hadn't known for sure that the first 20% or so would stick so closely to the Disney version, but I did.

For the first half of the book I couldn't help but imagine cartoon characters in the place of the characters, which isn't something that normally happens when I read. It was both intriguing and made the book stand out, though when something happened that wasn't quite in line with the film I found myself jarred a little. By the second half of the book I found that this had worn off and the characters had become their own. In my opinion the second half of the book was much more engaging and flowed better, though that could simply have been me getting used to the idea of the cartoon characters being there.

The twist was fantastic. I liked how Braswell took one key moment and changed it, and then showed how that would have an impact on the story. This even went as far as showing other key moments from the Disney version being played out by different characters, or by the characters thinking about what could have happened. That wasn't something that took up much time or seemed out of place, it actually worked really well.

I think I actually prefer this way of Aladdin and Jasmine's relationship progressing than the original. There was far more substance to both of them and they knew each other far better and far longer than they had in the film. This made their relationship more complex as well, particularly when they were faced with hard choices.

Everything was a little dark at times, and you could see where the morals of certain characters were being questioned. None of them had a completely clean sheet and none of them were black and white, even Jafar had moments where he wasn't quite as evil (though admittedly not many).

The ending also worked really well. There was no way that the original ending would have worked, and there were several points in the story where I was really concerned about the characters well being (and not just Jasmine and Aladdin's, I was also worried about Rajah and Abu, as well as several of the new characters like Morgiana and Duban). The way it worked out meant that everything was tied up but it was different from the happily ever after in the Disney version.

I actually really enjoyed A Whole New World, it was definitely different! I loved the new characters that were added and I liked the way that the characters interacted with each other and with the various plot points. For me this worked well, though I can also see why it wouldn't work for some people.