book reviews

“Far From Agrabah” by Aisha Saeed

I have to admit, it took me a while to decide to buy this book. I loved the original Aladdin cartoon movie as a child so I was naturally super excited when the live-action movie came out. I thought there was no way the new movie would be as good as the old one, especially without Robin Williams as Genie, but then I was surprised and I loved it! Even then, I couldn’t decide to buy the book or not. I had bought and read the Beauty and the Beast book “Lost in a Book” they came out with after that live-action remake and was a bit disappointed. I thought I would be in this one too. But I finally broke down and bought it once the movie came out on Blu-ray and I became obsessed all over again. (Disclosure: Disney Princesses and their live-action remakes is one of my many fandoms I love and follow.)

Jasmine, 2019

I flipped through the book and the large print made my heart sink a bit. I know it’s made for teens, but the print made it look like a middle-school children’s novel. There was no way it was going to be good, I was sure of it. It would be another retelling that was super tween-ish. I gave it a shot anyway and I’m glad I did because I ended up loving the story! It was different than any of the Disney retellings I’ve read so far. The author wove in between the original tale of Jasmine and Aladdin the fictitious history of past sultans from a book Jasmine herself owned and read many times. It really brought the story to life. And there was such a great twist when one of the characters from her ‘Legendary Leaders’ book leaped from the pages into their own story in the Genie-created land of Abawa. The author did a great job of starting the story in the movie to set the scene. The Harvest Festival with Aladdin’s famed dance took place and him convincing her to go on the magic carpet ride, but instead of singing “A Whole New World”, they traveled to new worlds and had original adventures that kept me interested in what would happen next the entire time. Nicely done, the author wrapped the book back up in the movie. I won’t spoil the ending, even though we all have seen it in the movie, but it was pretty perfect.

Magic Carpet Ride, 2019

The one thing I want to commend the author on in this story is the dialogue of the characters. Though I know in original fairy tale stories and even in Disney cartoons the princesses are usually portrayed in their mid-teen years, but in the live-action movie she looks more early 20’s and that is how I wanted them to talk as well. It is set in a past-time so I don’t particularly like when the characters throw in “OMGs” and today’s slang. This is a fault in some of the Disney’s fairy tale story books, such as the Twisted Tale Aurora story, but that was not the case with this one. The characters spoke like noble men and women, Aladdin sometimes slipping up to reveal he’s not really of noble birth, but not how a teen today would but how an adult in a past time would. The dialogue did not feel forced, but helped to move the story along nicely.

Jasmine and Aladdin, 2019

“Far From Agrabah” was a light-read, entertaining, and creative. I would recommend it to any who love either of the Disney Aladdin movies!

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