Well this one was a letdown. I read the twisted tales about Beauty and the Beast and loved how that was set up. This one takes a look at Aladdin and Jasmine and what would have happened if Jafar got to use the lamp and have Genie grant him wishes. I think the biggest problem is that none of the characters feels very developed. There seems to be a side plot with the introduction of two characters (Duban and Morgiana) that held more promise than us following Jasmine and Aladdin around trying to defeat Jafar. Also the book is a lot more harsher about the Sultan and how the people of Agrabah were treated by him. The ending was just off to me. I was expecting something more.
“A Whole New World” follows what would have happened to Jasmine and Aladdin if Jafar was able to escape with the lamp instead of Aladdin holding onto it from the Cave of Wonders. The book also includes a few things that I happen to know are from the musical as well. We have the introduction of Aladdin’s mother, mention of his runaway father, and his two childhood friends who are focused on being the best thieves ever. That said, the book switches things up a bit with Aladdin getting Abu from his mother as a pet. Aladdin only stealing to help out others and not for monetary gain. He runs from the captain of the guards, but still respects them. The book follows along with the Disney cartoon through Aladdin meeting Jasmine in the market, saving her from losing her hand, and them running off with each other. The book only changes things when we have Jafar hold onto the lamp and leaving Aladdin to die in the Cave of Wonders.
From there everything kind of goes sideways.
Jasmine is developed slightly. She sees the issues with how her father ruled and how she never got how the people of Agrabah were neglected by her father and his need to just let Jafar deal with things while he played with toys. I felt a bit bad since I always liked Jasmine’s father in the cartoon, and here he seems to be more of a buffoon.
Aladdin has a whole code thing going on though and talks about “street rats” a lot. Braswell also has him and Jasmine pretty much insta-loving each other quickly in this one. I was more interested in Aladdin once you have the introduction of Duban and Morgiana and their whole group of thieves thing.
Jafar is not only power mad, he wants people to genuinely love them. He is still focused on Jasmine marrying him in this story for reasons (that really don’t make a lot of sense, but whatever) and is determined to find magical means to compel her and others to do his bidding.
The Genie in our story is still sassy, but also pretty lame. We don’t get him interacting with Aladdin, instead he interacts with Jasmine and goes into how genies are made, humans suck, and the whole three wishes thing. The information dumps are not that great and I was curious about genies and the whole end times thing that was referenced.
The writing was a letdown. We keep having a story climax it felt like every chapter. And you would have a character going, well now we are going to go to war with Jafar and then nothing would happen for pages and pages. Or someone would threaten to kill Jafar and it just rang hollow after a while. I think the problem was that too much was going on with people getting captured, almost captured, escaping, etc. The flow was not good. I mean after Jafar gets the lamp it should have been game over or something. I don’t know a way to have made this more interesting. Maybe if Braswell had really gone for it and killed off all of the main characters from the story and letting Duban and Morgiana take center stage.
I did laugh one time while reading though when you have Jafar take a page out of Aladdin’s book and does his own parade cheering him and how weird it all looked to outsiders.
The setting of Agrabah just seemed a bit different than what the Disney cartoon showed us. We just generally seem to have all of the people living in poverty. And then one wonders how the Sultan and Jasmine lived so well if the people had zero money to be paying taxes and or feeding themselves. I was perplexed.
The ending was weird. I don’t know. I felt like this was a set-up to another story in some ways, but I know that these twisted tales stand alone so I didn’t get the ending that was given here.