Review: Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

Monday, April 4, 2016

Twisted Tales #2
Publisher: Disney Press
Publication Date: April 5th, 2016
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: eARC from Netgalley
Pages: 448

Summary (from Goodreads):

What if the sleeping beauty never woke up? Once Upon a Dream marks the second book in a new YA line that reimagines classic Disney stories in surprising new ways.

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 Phillip, a charming prince eager to join her quest. But with Maleficent'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'm not 100% sure why I downloaded this one besides the fact that it was offered up to me without having to request and I love retellings. I haven't read the first one, but I didn't hear WONDERFUL things about it. I was just hoping that I would like it, I guess.

The book starts off as your classic Sleeping Beauty story, the prince slays the dragon and goes to kiss the princess and wake her up. But instead of her waking up when he kisses her, he falls asleep as well and wakes up inside her dream!

This book read really oddly for me. I found that there was a lot of emphasis in weird places. Like a lot of words italicized that placed emphasis on what felt to me like really random words in the sentence. Then there was a character that HALF OF HIS DIALOGUE WAS SHOUTING.

Some parts of this book seemed to read more like an actual fairytales and then some parts just read like a normal story.

The beginning of this book progressed really quickly. I can see why. There was a fair bit of information to lay down to kind of set the story. But after the foundation was laid out, it felt like it just reeeeally slowed down.

Princess Aurora, the main character, was basically just incredibly lazy. In the beginning of this story, when she's living her life in the palace, all she EVER wants to do is lay in her bed and think. It seems like she really doesn't do a whole lot besides that. Even when she sets out on her quest she's in need of being carried or constantly having to sit down and it was just wild.

Prince Phillip was a decent love interest and character. He was brave, chivalrous, kind, and patient. And if he was dealing with Aurora, it seemed like he needed all the patience in the world. She randomly during the quest would pick something stupid to stop and yell at him about instead of continuing on her quest. I also couldn't help but think that when he talked, he mostly sounded like kind of an idiot... Just his dialogue made him sound like a puppy who is desperate for attention or something?

Maleficent was really an underwhelming villain, I felt. She was obviously evil, but really, I mostly just felt like she kind of acted like a baby when she had to confront Aurora before the epic final battle. Really Maleficent was basically just a whiny baby because all of this drama was over the STUPIDEST thing.

The romance in this book was interesting. Real life Aurora and Phillip fell in love at first sight. Like, he met her for a total of like five seconds before he trotted off to the castle to tell his father that he wasn't gonna marry the princess because he fell in the love in the forest. But there's more to it than that because Aurora kind of rethinks the whole instalove thing in her dream.

There were a few things that I enjoyed about this book. One, I felt like the final battle was more fleshed out and worth reading than a lot of other books that I liked better. The final battle with the villain is almost always something that I find to be really lacking in a book. It always feels so anticlimactic. While I didn't find this battle to be AMAZING, it actually seemed to challenge the heroine and there was some actual struggle, which I appreciated.

Despite not caring for Aurora and her general attitude, I enjoyed reading about her quest. I liked her internal struggle about her feelings toward her parents. I liked seeing her and Phillip beat all of Maleficent's tricks and traps, no matter how dorky I thought they were. I was rooting for them to succeed.

I did enjoy the idea of the twist on this story, but that wasn't enough to make me enjoy the story in general. One thing about it though, something about this story just really gave me dream vibes. I'm not really sure how to explain exactly what I mean. The way I felt reading this book is the same way I felt watching something like Alice in Wonderland. How everything just generally gives off weird vibes?? I don't know if that explanation helped at all, but it's the best I can do. 

Overall, if Sleeping Beauty was your favorite Disney movie, you might want to give this a read. I think that maybe younger readers would get more out of this book than older ones. I probably wouldn't read anymore books in this series just because of what I've heard about the first one and my general feelings about this one. If one of the tales retold was Beauty and the Beast, I miiiiight be swayed to read it, but otherwise, probably not.


  1. This makes me sad because Sleeping Beauty is one of my favorite fairy tales but I can't say I'm very surprised after reading the reviews for the first book. I get that Disney is trying to cash in on the popularity of Once Upon a Time and the like right now but I wish these had been thought out a bit more. I feel like it's also undue stress on the author having to operate with such a narrow premise, you know?

    1. It made me sad too! It has such an interesting concept, I just wish it would have been better! And then at the end there I said that I might read another one if she did Beauty and the Beast and then I looked her up on Goodreads and it turns out #3 is going to be Beauty and the Beast so now I have to eat my words.


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