Synergy Sells: As Old as Time by Liz Braswell

What if Belle’s mother cursed the Beast?

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her father’s reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belle’s mother returns–a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern.

But Belle touches the Beast’s enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind–images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making.

Souce: GoodReads

I was less than impressed with Braswell’s A Whole New World and was content on just forgoing her obvious pandering to Disney synergy series when I saw As Old as Time‘s premises and then I was like.

Need this.

Because Beauty and the Beast and the twist looked actually interesting.  And besides, surely after two books with poor reviews, surely Braswell was able to pick up some pointers on what was going wrong with the synergy pandering series.  Obviously, I was wrong.  The same habits that made A Whole New World  a hot mess, were included in As Old as Time including the whole let’s quote the movie.

Note, I had to wonder how it was possible to regurgitate an eighty minute movie’s script in 400 pages but oh-the twist, oh the twist is that we’ll include Maurice’s romance with Belle’s mother who’s the Enchantress.

Yes, Maurice.

The bumbling absentminded idiot of a father of Belle’s who gets together with Mrs. Potts at the movie.

Well, at least I think they get together.  It’s in my head cannon anyway.  But when I think of romance with Maurice unless it involves Mrs. Potts it’s a no go.

And yes, I know that cannon assumes that Belle’s mother must’ve been a pretty hot number given the fact that Maurice is…well, Maurice and everyone in town sings about Belle who looks nothing like Maurice.  But the Enchantress?????

It’s not like it’s even explained that well in the alternating chapters where I’m supposed to ship Enchantress/Maurice.

It just doesn’t work.  Much like the fact I’m supposed to like a woman who cursed an eleven year old spoiled little boy and then…well, then regurgitate the screenplay which while simple enough in it’s Disney form was enjoyable because you know great voice actors/animation  and Alan Menken songs.  Not so much here.

The characters are extremely flat.  And it’s not the story.  The story has been retold many times in YA before.  Sure, those versions aren’t based on the Disney movie, but that shouldn’t really matter.  At the core the book was a retelling of a fairytale and while Braswell was using the Disney movie as a template there were plenty of jumping off points  that could’ve made the story interesting.

But to focus half of the book on Maurice??????

Really, Maurice.

I feel bad for all you Potts/Maurice shippers that’s for sure (surely, there have to be some) As for me, I am not planning on touching this series with a ten foot pole ever again.  It doesn’t matter what movie they decide to retell.  Although, I did accidentally grab buy Once which I didn’t realize was by Braswell until it was too late so….

You know, I could just give that book away.  Yeah, that’s how annoyed I am with this author’s writing.

Overall Rating: DNF.

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.