Aladdin has always been one of my favorite Disney movies. There is even an old home movie of me at age 2 or 3 standing in front of the TV singing the entirety of “A Whole New World” (and nailing almost all the words). Something about the land of Agrabah has held a special place in my heart of the years, so I was beyond excited when I learned about this book.
A Whole New World by Liz Braswell is the first book in the Twisted Tale trilogy, stories which are inspired by classic Disney movies. This particular novel poses the question: What would happen if Jafar got the lamp?
The novel starts off pretty close to how the animated film starts. The dialogue is pretty much all lifted from the film, but we get to learn a bit more about Agrabah and what it is like for Aladdin to be growing up in this environment. We then meet Jasmine, Aladdin is arrested and “rescued” by Jafar who takes him to the Cave of Wonders. And this is where the Twisted Tale kicks off. As Aladdin tries to escape the collapsing Cave of Wonders he asks Jafar for help getting out. Jafar asks for him to give him the lamp, which Aladdin does, before Jafar kicks Aladdin and he falls and is trapped in the cave. We all know that in the movie Abu the monkey stole the lamp back from Jafar, but in this version, Jafar is victorious in getting his hands on it and is quick to take over the kingdom.
I thought this would kind of like that Twisted musical that Starkid has on YouTube (which is hilarious and I recommend checking it out, unless you don’t like swearing or things that might ruin your childhood, in which case you might not like it). Unfortunately a lot of the humor and characters were flat.
The Genie is not funny. I know a huge part of his humor comes from his character being voiced by Robin Williams, but you would have thought that the author would have carried over some of his humor, especially in this darker situation with Jafar being in charge. That seems more in character for him. Sadly, he was just a sad blue guy who popped into Jasmine’s parts of the story on occasion.
Aladdin and Jasmine were relatively the same as their iconic movie counterparts, although it felt like they needed a little extra something. There were just a few scenes where they felt flat, but for the most part they were good.
One thing I will say about this book is that it offered a look into Aladdin’s life as a “street rat.” I found the different layers of the poor people in Agrabah to be interesting. There was like a whole class system of thieves, with Aladdin at the top of the system (stealing only what was necessary to get by) and those who kill and steal for sport/as a career at the very bottom. We have a lot moments where this system is explored and how Jasmine discovers this later on when they are trying to defeat Jafar.
Overall, I would give this book about a 2.5 out of 5 stars. I didn’t love it, I didn’t hate it, it was just okay. There are two more books in this series for Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast, two of my other favorite Disney movies so I am holding out hope that those are good.
Have any of you read this book or the others in the Twisted Tale series? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for reading!