By: Liz Braswell
Published Year: 2015
Publisher: Disney Press
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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 ofAladdin 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.
This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way shape or form influenced my feelings towards this book.
I love Disney and I love Aladdin. When I saw that there was a book coming out, from Disney, about a re-telling/re-imagining of Aladdin I was super excited. I love when stories are told with a major plot point twist to see how life would have been if that one thing was different. I really enjoy alternate universes and this sounded like that. I actually preferred the first cover they had to the final cover that they chose. I would not pick this book up based off of the current cover.
What I thought
My childhood has been ruined. This book is hands down the worst book I have read this year. If you don’t want to read a negative review, just stop now because this review will pretty much be all ranting about how terrible this book is.
The concept of this book is wonderful. What would happen if Jafar got the lamp before Aladdin? There was so much potential to enrich a classic story from my childhood and this book did exactly the opposite. I almost felt like the author sat there and thought “How can I make this as obnoxiously different from the movie as possible and also ruin childhood memories?”
The first 25% of the book is the movie in written form. The dialogue is almost exactly the same, and while boring, it was at least comforting. I was singing the songs in my head during the scenes that were written. Once Jafar gets the lamp it all starts to go wrong.
Issue number one that I had is the character development. There is none. There are new characters that are introduced, but I can’t tell you anything about them. I could barely tell you their gender until one of the characters referred to them as he or she. Because of this it made it really difficult to connect to the story and the characters. Even though I love Aladdin and Jasmine, I couldn’t connect to them in this context and became annoyed with them as the book went on.
Issue number two is that this book is one giant kick to the childhood. SPOILER ALERT- In this book, the author murders the sultan, Iygao, and the flying carpet! Jafar actually cuts up the carpet into tiny pieces to sew into his guards’ uniforms! This is so unnecessary. I felt like everything in this book went one step too far. There’s a scene in which Jafar kills a citizen by turning his head completely around on his neck. In this scene, the author actually describes the bones and muscles snapping. I didn’t need that.
SPOILER OVER. I think that this is supposed to be a YA novel, but I don’t know that it is. I wouldn’t want a small child to read this book because it takes away all of the magic of the original Aladdin story. It’s also grotesque at a lot of points. Another irritating factor with this book is the writing. I can’t stand when an author foreshadows an event without any subtlety. For example, there is a character in this book whose family gets kidnaped. When discussing a plan to save them it pretty much reads like “Bob listened to the plans with his eyes glazed over as if he was thinking of something else, planning something. Sarah turned towards Aladdin and asks “I think Bob is acting oddly. He might be hiding a secret.” Aladdin turns towards Bob and sees in his eyes that he’s hiding something.” And then, as if it’s not obvious, “Bob” is not planning on sticking to the plan that’s been discussed of how to save his family. Also, there are pages upon pages of characters running down a hall, stopping when they think a guard is coming, holding their breath, and then breathing a sigh of relief when they aren’t caught.
There were multiple times when I wanted to put this book down. The only reason I kept reading was because I received it for review. I also held out a small amount of hope that it would get better, but didn’t think it would. I didn’t think it could get worse but the ending made me want to throw the book across the room.
By: Liz Braswell