Expected Publication: September 1st, 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Source: Won (ARC), NetGalley
*I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinions.
Welcome to a new YA series that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways. Each book asks the question: What if one key moment from a familiar Disney film was changed? This dark and daring version of Aladdin twists the original story with the question: What if Jafar was the first one to summon the Genie?
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 is yet another case where I should have DNF'ed but didn't. And there's not really a good reason for it. It took me ages to get through, and I don't think I was interested in a single second of it.
All the negative reviews I'd already seen had me very curious - I'm not a die-hard Disney fan, so I thought maybe I would just have a bit of a different perspective on it. I know I've seen Aladdin, but I was probably 4 or 5 years old. Many reviews have talked about how the beginning of this novel is basically an exact replica of the movie. I can't comment on this since it's been so long, but I can tell you this: A Whole New World didn't really seem to bring anything new to the story that I remember of Aladdin. Or anything new to any story at all, really.
Sure, Jafar gains possession of the infamous genie's lamp instead of Aladdin. But nothing after that feels very inventive or exciting or even mildly interesting. Nothing feels as if it's being brought to life, which is unfortunate because even I remember Agrabah in the movie with vivid clarity. I felt none of that here. There were no lush descriptions of palaces or the the desert. The writing wasn't awful, not by any means, but it simply felt like it . . . lacked any life. Or maybe that was just the plot itself.
And I would just like to take a little interlude to state that I liked the older cover MUCH better. I love double exposure, sure, but the older cover was SO much more appealing to me, both in font and general design.
I can't even begin to tell you how much I skimmed. Not in the beginning, of course - I was trying to give myself time to get invested in the story. But it never happened. The dialogue can feel so, so awkward at times. I can't even tell you how many times I rolled my eyes, especially considering the beginning of Aladdin and Jasmine's relationship which flew from 0 to 60 in, like, two pages. And the saddest part? There was no chemistry there at all.
And A Whole New World has a problem I've been feeling a lot lately - the stakes were never high. They never even felt like they were lifted off the ground. Someone died and it brought no emotion out of me - nor anyone in the book, really. Nothing felt like it had an impact. I was never afraid or worried or sad. (Except for this one time when Jafar threw Rajah into the wall, and like, you guys have seen how I feel about cats. Rest assured, I FELT SOMETHING THERE.) It was all just very . . . dull. Yawn-inducing. Utterly boring. Take your pick.
I did appreciate the copious amounts of Abu, though, and, of course, any scene with Rajah. Because I'm obviously all about the animals here.
tl;dr: Trust the negative reviews. More importantly, trust your gut if you're 145 pages in and practically falling asleep every other page and accidentally skipping over entire paragraphs because OOPS YOU DON'T CARE. 1.5 unfortunate stars.