Not My Aladdin: The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world… 

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years — a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of Aladdin from acclaimed author Jessica Khoury.

Source: GoodReads

There are quite a few jinn books in YA today.  Some better than others.  I was really excited about The Forbidden Wish because I was like finally a jinn book about Aladdin. And was like OMG.

Only, don’t expect this book to be an Aladdin retelling.  Sure, there are elements to the original fairytale but they are relatively loose elements.

I think in a way, it benefits the story.  Had it been a straight retelling there were parts of the story that would undoubtedly not work.  As it stands though, I ended up liking The Forbidden Wish a lot, but I didn’t love it.

The best thing this book had going for it were its characters both Zahra and Aladdin felt fairly realistic and I enjoyed their dynamic, but I didn’t exactly ship them.

Aladdin had a little too much of a Ron Weasley quality about him, and I just don’t ship anyone like Ron.  Blame it on being a persistent Slytherin who cannot stand a man child which Aladdin and Ron are.

The thing is, I do not see Zahra liking someone like Aladdin.  Honestly, while I liked their friendship, I just can’t see someone like Zahra settling with someone like Aladdin.  She’s a queen for fuck’s sake and he is an overgrown man child at best.

The thing is that despite the fact that I’m not totally down with the ship, I do like Aladdin and Zahra.  They are good characters.

Just not together.

The plot of the story deviates significantly from the original Aladdin fairytale and while a part of me is glad about this, I want some elements that are nods to the original story save for the name of Aladdin and the fact that he comes in possession of a jinn.

Which is fine.  I did enjoy the story for what it was, but I was thinking there was going to be more of a connection with the original.

There are some nice elements of world building in this one, and I thought the flashbacks were woven in nicely.

In all, it was a nice book there were just some things about it that didn’t work for me.  If you do like YA jinn books though.  I do think you should give it a try though.

Overall Rating: A B.

A Whole New Turd (or Synergy!): A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

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.

Source: GoodReads

If you ever read fan fiction you’ll inevitably come across the practically plagiarized fic where the only thing original about said fan fic from cannon is its disclaimer.

This book is much like that fic.  Okay, it eventually does diverge from cannon but that’s when things get really bad.

It’s too bad that Agrabah doesn’t have an official cocktial because I’d so make myself one now.  I’m thinking for this book I need something pretty strong.  A vodka tonic might do the job.

Or maybe a good sidecar.  Can’t go wrong there.  Taste like battery acid, those do.  And that’s sort of what I need after this book.  Something to get the bad taste of forced synergy out of my mouth.

Currently synergy is a big thing for Disney.  Look at Once Upon a Time-or how many Disney movies that aren’t even fairytales can we stuff into an hour of programming .  I like Once a lot, but sometimes I just roll my eyes at the Mouse doing some very obvious self marketing.

This book was like Once Upon a Time’s infusion of Frozen last season.  Good on paper, but epic fail.  A lot of it was that it didn’t try to deviate from cannon at all. The first hundred pages are basically a novelization of the Aladdin but with horrible purple prose.

Just look at the opening paragraph:

A High White Moon cast its light on the city below as brightly as the sun was said to shine in northern countries.  White mud-brick buildings gleamed like pebbles form a faraway beach.  The golden onion domes on the capital glittered like a dream against the pale dunes and the dark, starry void. (1)

You could’ve condensed this into something like this:The moon cast a light on the city below.  It flickered on the white brick buildings and the dome of the capital.

Okay, you could probably eliminate said paragraph in its entirety to be honest.  But I was trying to be nice here.

Screw this book.

It doesn’t deserve nice.

It is a blatant attempt to cash in on a popular 90’s film and recent broadway show.  However, instead of showing me a whole new world it showed me that Disney could make a whole new turd on once fabulous merchandise.

The cover is wonderful too, really this book does not deserve a cover.

Sigh…

The thing about trying novelize a Disney novel, is that you can’t do a blow by blow play of the movie when the character are pretty flat-to be fair to the movie it was only a little over an hour long and it had Robin Williams as the Genie so that helped some of the flatness.

Speaking of the genie, when the book went AU his lines were probably some of the most painful.  It’s sad how a bad book is yet another painful reminder of how great the late comedian was.  The lines that Braswell wrote were just bad.  I even tried to think of Robin saying them.  And no, just no.

I didn’t stick around to the end.  Mainly because I didn’t see a point.  There was no great deviation from the source material till the AU and once it hit the AU…..well, The Return of Jafar was written better.  And we all know that was a direct to video Disney sequel (which Steve Jobs ex-nayed because they were so bad, BTW).

Overall Rating: A  DNF with an F.  Disney you should think about making sure your synergy is of quality.