Thank you NetGalley and Disney Press for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Synopsis: It should be simple–a Dragon defeated, a slumbering maiden, a prince poised to wake her. But when said prince falls asleep as soon as his lips meet the princess’s, it is clear that this fairy tale is far from over.
With a desperate fairy’s last curse infiltrating her mind, Princess Aurora will have to navigate a dangerous and magical landscape deep in the depths of her dreams. Soon she stumbles upon Philip, a charming Prince eager to join her quest. But with Malificent’s agents following her every move, Aurora struggles to discover who her true allies are, and moreover, who she truly is. Time is running out. Will the sleeping beauty be able to wake herself up?
I was so disappointed last year when my request for an e-ARC of A Whole New World was rejected on NetGalley. After reading all the bad reviews of it though, I considered myself lucky to have escaped. The chief complaint seemed to be that the book was almost a word for word novelization of the movie Aladdin. So, when I saw Once Upon a Dream offered, I was a little hesitant. The synopsis sounded intriguing though so I went ahead and requested it. While Liz Braswell gives this retelling of Sleeping Beauty an interesting twist, there are so many problems with the way the book is written, that it left me frustrated and disappointed.
I actually liked the way the story began. Prince Phillip has slayed Malificent in her dragon form, and has successfully gotten into the castle to rescue Aurora, his true love, from the sleeping curse she’s under. As he kisses her however, instead of her waking up and embarking with her Prince on the beginning of their happily ever after, Phillip instead becomes the latest victim of the spell. Unfortunately things go rapidly downhill from there. The biggest problem is Aurora herself. For the majority of the book she’s either obsessing over all the perceived injustices done to her, or she’s yelling, a lot. Seriously, much of the book has her yelling even if it’s just to emphasize something she’s trying to get across. I can’t tell you how annoying this was. Phillip is sweet and affable, but because Aurora is so obnoxious his unwavering devotion to her just isn’t believable. There’s an interesting twist to the love at first sight trope with Aurora questioning how two people can possibly fall in love without knowing anything about each other, but because of her moaning, whining, complaining and YELLING, it gets buried under all the badly written dialogue. Malificent starts out as an interesting character who is almost a mother figure to Aurora in this dream world, but she quickly transforms into a one-dimensional cartoon villain whose lines are delivered by rote. I’d say the world-building is the best part of the book, but the pace moves so agonizingly slow that I couldn’t wait for Aurora to wake up, because that would mean I had finally reached the end.
Overall, Once Upon a Dream had great potential, but in the end was weighted down by an immature and unlikable heroine, too many plot holes, and badly written dialogue. I’m a huge fan of Disney and fairytale retellings, but unfortunately this isn’t one I’d recommend.