Part of Your World is a re-imagining/alternative universe of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Whilst The Little Mermaid isn’t my favourite Disney classic, it’s pretty high up there, and I love the story and the characters (particularly Ursula!) so Part of Your World immediately caught my attention!
The premise runs along the lines of what would have happened if Ariel never defeated Ursula, and Vanessa(Ursula) ended up marrying Eric and Ariel returns to the sea after Triton sacrifices himself for her. It’s set five years after the AU events of the film, where Ariel is the queen of Atlantica, and Ursula is running Eric’s kingdom on land. Naturally, Ariel doesn’t stay in the sea, and the story unfolds from there.
This collection of Twisted Tale’s re-imagining’s, along with another collection from Disney, are often considered to be fanfiction with a bigger budget. Usually, I’d agree with that,but unfortunately this time I can’t. And that’s not because I think this is a good book.
Fanfiction tends to come from love of the original source, and therefore the characters are treated with respect, this is not the case here. There is not one, single character who behaves anything like they do in the film. I know it’s been 5 years, but jeez, there’s no way anyone (even the headstrong 16-year-old Ariel) would go through that dramatic of a character shift in 5 years. Especially the adults like Ursula. In fact, Ursula seemed to revert back to being a teenager.
Forgive me, because I’m about to go off on one! Ursula deserved better! Let’s ignore the fact that I adore Ursula (from the film) and let’s look at this objectively. Ursula was written as a totally different character and it was an insult.
“Everything in the ocean was a thing of beauty and numbers, even in death. Mermaids could live for a long time, but their bodies became foam that dissipated into nothing when they died.”
In the original film, Ursula became Vanessa (a total babe by the way!) to try and marry Eric – obviously. But the reason she did this is totally ignored in Part of Your World. In the film, Ursula becomes Vanessa to help increase her chances of winning her bargain with Ariel.If Ariel loses, Ursula gets Ariel as a prisoner, but knows Triton will sacrifice himself for his daughter, which would then give Ursula complete and total control of the seas and all within them. Ruling the oceans was her entire plan and motivation! Ursula showed no use for Eric, no desire to rule the land and every desire to rule the seas.
Ursula cares about power! Does she get some in Braswell’s bad fanfiction? Sure, but it pales in comparison to the all-encompassing power she would have under the sea! Would keeping Eric under her thumb rub salt into the wounds for Ariel? Sure, but Ursula ultimately wouldn’t give a fuck about Eric; she’d probably kill him as soon as she could,or keep him in her ‘garden’.
So Braswell wants me to believe that Ursula would give up ruling the entire ocean for co-ruling a single country? On land. Where it’s explained in the book that her magic doesn’t work. You can fuck right off if you think I’m believing that. Ursula only got to demonstrate what she’d do with the trident for about 5 minutes in the film, and in those 5 minutes she did far more damage and caused more chaos than she did in the entire page count of this book. And that’s another thing, in Braswell’s re-imagining, Ariel – as the queen of Atlantica – holds the trident. Yep, the trident, the only thing that Ursula wanted throughout the entire plot of the film. So, Ursula is just cool with Ariel having the one thing she wants and is happy living the human life? Nope, no, absolutely not. I’m not accepting that.
Ursula’s core facts from the film are completely ignored and erased. She went from iconic, confident and an absolutely villainous schemer and plotter in the film to a weak, shallow and pathetic excuse for a character in Braswell’s version.
“Vanessa was splashing and talking to herself and playing in the bath almost like a child.”
And it’s not just Ursula,although she is the one I care about the most. Ariel was a total whinge-bag and did very little in the film. Also, as much as we didn’t get much interaction between her and Eric (who is a total idiot-drip in this book) in the film, it was pretty obvious that they were dedicated to each other. Well…as dedicated as two Disney characters in insta-love can be. But in Braswell’s version Ariel straight-up leaves a brainwashed Eric up on land, married to Ursula and doesn’t seem to give it much thought…damn, that’s heartless! And not like Ariel at all.
Now, before you all start on with the whole ‘it’s an alternative universe’ defense, you’re right, it absolutely is. But it’s an AU story that is using already established characters from a well-known and widely loved source. If you’re writing a re-imaging, you should have the characters still behave similarly to how we remember them, they haven’t had personality transplants! In my eyes it just shows an utter lack of respect for the source material.
I can’t even really comment on the story because I just want to write it all off as I don’t accept these characters. But what I will say is that there’s a lot of whining from several characters about how bad life is and nothing of importance or note happens until practically the last chapter. There are 10 POV’s (including from an original character from Braswell) that all sound the same. What’s the point in multiple POV’s if all your characters have the same voice?!
I just think Braswell doesn’t care at all about making a good, coherent story, and here’s further proof: In the novel, Ariel mentions that it’s been 100 years since her mum died. I ask you…how?! Ariel is 16 right? That’s made super obvious in the film. Now the story in Part of Your World takes place 5 years later. So, if my maths is correct (and it is), Ariel is 21. Ariel also says that it’s been half a decade (in those words) since Ursula took over onland. So we know mermaid years are synonymous with human years – we’re not using dog-year rules here! So, how has Ariel’s mum been dead for 100 years when Ariel is 21? Urgh! How can you not have picked up on that?
I’m so mad right now. Braswell is a hack. I think I have more books from this Disney collection that’ve been written by her in my TBR pile. I’ll probably get to them in the hopes that Part of Your World was a one-off fuck-up. But I’m not racing to them.
Urgh. So mad.
” “Don’t even consider it, young lady.” Ariel raised an eyebrow at him incredulously. Young lady? In the years that had passed since the duel with the sea witch, she had aged. Not dramatically, but far more than a mostly immortal mermaid should have.”
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