A Twisted Tale
By Liz Braswell
Available now from Disney-Hyperion
The premise of the Twisted Tales series strikes me as brilliant: Disney allowing their versions of classic stories to be retold as dark YA novels. The heroes and heroines of Disney stories are teens, and there is often room for things to go horribly awry. In A WHOLE NEW WORLD, Jafar gets the lamp as soon as Aladdin steals it, leading to the rise of a dark rule in Agrabah.
Unfortunately, A WHOLE NEW WORLD is not good. The first 22% is a retelling of the movie events written in a competent but not particularly engrossing style. When things finally start to diverge, the tone just doesn't work. The beginning was basically the light cartoonish style of the movie, so the darkness also begins strangely cartoonish.
There's also the fact that nothing in A WHOLE NEW WORLD really evokes the movie. When Jasmine and Aladdin talk, I can't hear their voices in my head. The fate of Agrabah is at stake, and yet I can't get a feel for the city even with Liz Braswell expanding it and diving deeper into the underworld of the Street Rats. Everything feels vaguely modern and American, down to details like Jasmine mentioning a dog as a common pet. I was bland, as if a few details pasted in from the movie were enough to make the setting work.
A WHOLE NEW WORLD isn't completely irredeemable. Braswell makes Jasmine an equal protagonist who earns the right to rule and works hard to rescue herself and her city. I appreciated that she leaned in to the feminist potential of Jasmine refusing to be forced into marriage. That's about the best compliment I can offer this novel.
For such an amazing premise, A WHOLE NEW WORLD came off as ill-conceived and hastily done. It's not a very good book.