I have a love, hate relationship with Liz Braswell. And it’s been this way from the very first book of hers that I read. And I think a large part of the reason why I have such a strong love, hate relationship with Braswell and her novels is because I really, really want to love her books…but I never do. And it just makes me sad because my precious Disney love expected so much more from these books with really brilliant ideas and premises and the characters I’ve grown up loving. But the problem, I’ve realized, with literally all of Braswell’s stories is that she seems to have next to no concept of who these characters are, what motivates them, and how they act. Every single damn time I read one of her books I’m always astounded and blown away by how poorly she captures them. I wont even touch her Mulan retelling due to how poorly thought out her “twist” was.
Honestly, I’m fairly certain that the only reason Part of Your World received a rating higher than a two is because I have a lot of love for The Little Mermaid and so my nostalgic adoration played a large part in my ability to appreciate facets of this book. The only reason it’s been rated higher than a one is because her writing actually isn’t that bad. So maybe Braswell should really try her hand at writing her own story rather than butchering the ones I’ve loved since I was two years old.
The biggest issue with Part of Your World is the fact that Ursula is not Ursula. I don’t think Braswell had any understanding of the sea witch as a character because literally everything about her made absolutely no sense at all. Her revenge upon the oceans was never realized, so why in the hell was she content to lounge about on land and take over there? Why was she content to let Ariel rule the oceans and merely desired that the little mermaid leave her alone to wreak havoc in the world Ariel had always dreamed of? Barring A. G. Howard’s disgusting rendition of the Phantom of the Opera, Ursula was the most ridiculous butchering of a character I’ve ever seen.
Ariel, Eric, and Scuttle were all subjected to strange changes that did not match their initial characters as well, leaving me feeling as though Braswell couldn’t have even been bothered to watch the film prior to writing the novel. And while none of their changes were egregious in any way, I simply cannot abide by the unrealistic ridiculousness of Ursula. I also did not care at all for Jona, Scuttle’s “grand-gull” (daughter).
Ironically, though, I didn’t completely hate this book. I just think it was a pitiful rendition of The Little Mermaid. Perhaps if the story had been different in a way that had made it not a retelling of The Little Mermaid and rather a story of her own creation, I might have been able to appreciate it more. But as far as Braswell is concerned, I’m convinced at this point that she’s incapable of knowing the characters whose stories she’s “twisting” and therefore they will always be subjected to this unfortunate feature where none of the characters match themselves.
And I’m sorry, but “twisting” a story is not a good enough excuse to completely change the characters. If the twist is that Ariel wasn’t able to defeat Ursula…then the characters should still make sense as far as their personalities and motivations are concerned. So, while I was still able to have a decent time reading this, I think I’m done with Braswell from now on. I just don’t think I can put myself through another complete butchering of some of my favorite stories. If anyone tries to twist the stories later on and actually manages to keep the characters realistic to their prior stories, then I’d definitely be up for giving them a chance. It was the twists that had me so excited about these books in the first place and the lack of consistency with the characters that ruined it.