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Braswell, Liz. A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale.

3Q * 3P * J * S

Braswell, Liz. A Whole New World: A Twisted Tale. Disney, 2015. 384p. $17.99. 978-1-4847-0729-6.

In Agrabah, Grand Vizier Jafar is determined to become Sultan. In order to amass the necessary power, he tricks the carefree but moral young thief Aladdin into retrieving a magic lamp from a treacherous cave. Once he has secured his power, Jafar rules the people with manipulation, fear, and even necromancy, but with Aladdin's help, the Princess Jasmine hopes to win the city's heart and take the throne.

A Whole New World is based, not loosely, on the classical tale of Aladdin, but specifically on the Disney movie; the entire first quarter or so of the book is a nearly exact retelling of the movie up until Aladdin retrieves the lamp, whereupon Jafar seizes control and begins his rule by killing the Sultan in front of Jasmine and the rest of the city. This sets up a tonal dissonance, especially for those very familiar with the film; the nearly anthropomorphic monkey and tiger, and the puppy-like carpet (who meets a grizzly fate), exist in the same world as a man getting his head twisted off. Aladdin is less callow from the start and grows less; Jasmine, as the leader of a revolution, has a lot more to do and learn. The genie gets more backstory, and gets to keep his constant joking despite greater angst. The mobilization of Agrabah against Jafar and his creepy undead army gives a welcome look at more of the town, its people, and the conditions in which they live, and Braswell seems slightly more concerned with cultural authenticity, using personal names and nouns to give a sense of place. But this is no study in history. The dialogue itself is often slangily modern, and elements that can work in a movie--like suddenly falling in love--require more support in a novel but do not receive it. Aladdin seems a strange choice for the first story to launch this new line of dark twists on Disney stories, and its strengths may not outweigh the fond memories of a public raised on a jokey Genie.--Lisa Martincik.

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Author:Martincik, Lisa
Publication:Voice of Youth Advocates
Article Type:Book review
Date:Oct 1, 2015
Words:358
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