I don’t know many (if any) people who dislike Disney. I would watch The Disney Channel every morning before school with shows like The Little Mermaid, Hercules, Timone and Pumba and, of course, Aladdin. So you can imagine my excitement at a retelling of one of my favourite Disney films.
I was in Morrisons and browsing the book section for a deal when I came across A Whole New World by Liz Braswell. On the cover, it says ‘A Twisted Tale’ and ‘What if Aladdin had never found the lamp’ so naturally, I was intrigued and all like ‘omg that sounds so cool, I have to have this!’ and at £3.50, I went straight to the check out.
The synopsis on the back cover starts with ‘this is not the story you already know’ Okay so we’re off to a good start, because I know that story pretty well. It goes on to say that Jafar becomes a power-mad ruler and Jasmine and Aladdin have to unite the city against Jafar.
It sounds really good! I thought, based on the cover design and the synopsis telling me it’s definitely NOT the story I know, that this book was going to have a kind of historical fiction-y style to it. Instead of animated comedy, it was going to be more intense – about revolutionaries and dictators and rebellions. I was wrong. Although, I was led to believe that is how it was going to progress, it ended up being the complete opposite.
The prologue set me up for a great story. It starts with Aladdin as a young boy with his two friend Duban and Morgiana. We’re introduced to Aladdin’s mother – which really opens your eyes to his childhood and why he is such a caring Street Rat, in comparison to the others. The prologue really set the scene for me being more about friendship and the importance of family. Y’know, because Jafar is supposed to batsh*t crazy so I just thought it would focus on him and his friends and family, telling the story from a different angle (it’s called A Twisted Tale after all).
So the Prologue kinda set me up for something great to come but the first chapter opens EXACTLY where the movie does. And for the first 80 pages, this book is IDENTICAL to the movie with the dialogue, scene, everything. Everything is the same. It’s like the author was too lazy to write a decent story so they spent 20% of the book copying the movie script. This was sooo disheartening for me because I had high hopes for this book.
I feel cheated because the cover (front and back) specifically say ‘What if Aladdin had never found the lamp’ but he does find the lamp, it’s exactly the same as the movie – he finds it, but instead of Abu quickly stealing it back from Jafar before they collapse into the Cave of Wonders, Jafar keeps the lamp. So how did Aladdin never find the lamp when he did?
And the cover telling me it’s ‘not the story you already know’ except it is though, isn’t it? At least the first 80 pages are identical to the story I already know with literally no deviation from it whatsoever. This incredibly annoyed me. I was lied to, to an extent anyway.
After the first 80 plagiarised pages, the story basically just skips to the end of the film where Jafar has the lamp and uses it to become the most powerful sorcerer. There are a few differences in the beginning of Jafar’s reign (I won’t spoil it for you) but that was the basic jist of what I got. It does then take on it’s ‘twist’ when Aladdin reunites with his childhood friends (I’d been waiting to meet them again since the Prologue) and they have to fight Jafar to save the city and the people.
It does become a good revolutionary tale about the underdogs taking back control from a power-hungry dictator. I just really wish it took a different turn from the beginning because all the action and exciting reading happens in the last 100 pages (at least for me it did). The writing is very easy to read and the story is easy to follow too, but I kept confusing myself over the pronunciation of Morgiana (I kept calling her Morgana, from Merlin?) but other than that, it was fine. There were moments where I really felt they could have done something different and others where I thought it all worked really well.
Overall, I did enjoy this book but I am just so disappointed in being told it was going to be completely different and having it being very much the same. I basically watched half the movie while reading this book, which is not what I wanted when I bought this. I expected a dark tale, a not-so-happy-ending fairytale gone bad but it was still a good book.
I would give this 3/5 stars simply because it isn’t what I was led to believe and the story did take it’s time to get to the action because of this, but it was still enjoyable. I will probably read another in the A Twisted Tale series by Liz Braswell but I’ll probably just stick to the stories I like, such as The Little Mermaid or Sleeping Beauty.
Have you read this book? What’s your favourite Disney movie?