I hesitated to review this book here because it is really for a much younger crowd. This is not YA. It might not even be a middle school read. It has gotten so much interest, though, that I thought it might be worth my time to give you a good idea of what you are getting so you can go into the book with open eyes. For the right age group, this could be magical, but for an older crowd, this will be a little too tame and predictable. This book is publishing on September 1, 2015.
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.
I think fans of the Disney animated film of Aladdin will be happy with how faithful A Whole New World is to the characters and spirit of that version. I haven’t seen the animated film since it came out, which might have been almost two decades ago now! However, I immediately pictured each character as their voice took up the dialogue. The genie is the most memorable character for me, and he is still wise cracking in this version of the story. My problem was that I still see them as animated characters while I’m reading this. With all of the sophisticated reimaginings that have been coming out over the last few years, I think I was expecting something more since this was marketed as YA. This is literally the Disney version with a twist. While middle school readers might still find this engaging, I think YA’s and adult readers of YA will find this disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, this is well written and polished smooth, but it just doesn’t have the complexity to engage mature readers. There is romance, adventure, and battle, but it is all focused on a single goal without really developing any subplots or deep character growth. Everyone is either black or white, and it goes without saying that small time “bad guys” like the street rats are all just thieves with hearts of gold when given a chance. Character motivations are limited to greed or noble things like love and compassion. That is all well and good, but YA readers are usually going to call “bull” when they read something that feels contrived. I think this is a book that you can share with an elementary classroom or read with your child who has enjoyed the movie, but I can’t see it getting a lot of interest in a high school library. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 4+.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.