Y's Reviews > As Old As Time

As Old As Time by Liz Braswell
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it was ok
bookshelves: audiobook, young-adult, disney, fantasy, fairy-tales, magic, setting-france

Bigotry will always be a relevant topic and there will always be a place for books that discuss and explore them in order to teach young generations, but having Belle and a bunch of animated furniture, in 18th century France, sit down and discuss "minorities" and "ethnic cleansing" and "racial tension" is just eye-rolling. Important topics to discuss, yes, but there are certainly better ways of getting that across, especially for a writer. Here, using the anachronistic terms (or, at least their current day meaning is certainly anachronistic to the time period) straight in the narrative just sounds stupid. This feels less like "Disney: Twisted Tales" and more "Disney: Tumblr Retelling". While there may be a group that enjoys that, it'd probably work best as fanfiction that's put up on, y'know, Tumblr, and not made into any sort of official spin-off. I'm surprised Belle hasn't used the term "mansplaining" yet to Beast (or better yet, Gaston), but I'm not finished, so there's still time. This could possibly work with, say, Ralph Breaks the Internet Belle, but...this is not that Belle.

Belle herself doesn't feel much like the Belle we're expecting. In fact, she feels largely like a less aggressive Jasmine (who also doesn't feel like Jasmine from the movie) from the Aladdin retelling (I skipped the second book of the series so I can't comment on that) as if Braswell is only capable of writing one type of strong woman (which isn't true, but the more diverse character types she writes seem relegated to more minor female characters).

In fact, although I didn't like A Whole New World that much, compared to this, the politics were more engaging: the royalty (Jasmine) fighting for a more equal land for her people angle was better woven into a story format as opposed to this more hamfisted "let's talk social inequality in 2010s terms in long ago rural France when bathrooms were still all chamber pots and people just splashed their shit outta windows". Anachronism can work when it's a comedy (see the entirety of The Emperor's New Groove), or for the occasional humorous pun or visual cue (see most Disney films taking place in medieval or other such times), or maybe for stories geared toward much younger readers, but in novel form, it just comes off as clumsy.
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Reading Progress

June 1, 2019 – Started Reading
June 15, 2019 – Shelved
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: audiobook
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: young-adult
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: disney
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasy
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: fairy-tales
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: magic
June 15, 2019 – Shelved as: setting-france
June 16, 2019 – Finished Reading

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