DNF Review: Once Upon a Dream

once upon a dream
Once Upon a Dream (Twisted Tales #2) by Liz Braswell
Publication date: 05.04.2016

Genre: Retelling, YA 
Rating: DNF


Synopsis: 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?


My first DNF of 2016. Another milestone reached. I know that many bloggers did not like the first book in this series,  A Whole New World. I actually did, maybe because Aladdin is one of my all-time favorite animated movies/stories? I love Aladdin. I don’t have that attachment to Aurora, or Sleeping Beauty though. 

From the first few pages, I knew this book wasn’t for me. There’s just something about the tone of a book that immediately tells you whether you’ll like it or not. But I didn’t want to give up yet, because I’m always so grateful I get a review copy. So I don’t want to let anyone down. However, at 31% I decided to quit reading. Here’s why. 

Characters are incredibly important to me. Without a good or interesting main character, a story is lost to me. Unfortunately, I didn’t like Aurora, the main character. I was just so incredibly bored by her. She doesn’t do anything but dance in hallways, sleep, lie in bed and ask herself questions. She doesn’t actually DO anything. And it seems like she doesn’t take initiative ever. She either lies in her bed thinking/dreaming or is acting on someone else’s request. For example: her aunt will ask her to do something. So she does. And that’s it. At times, I felt like she was depressed? Not getting out of bed all day, not feeling up to doing anything, having so many questions going through her head.. Why did no one help her? 

Here’s a quote so you’ll understand: 

There was also the little matter that when she wasn’t twirling, her favorite thing was lying down and dreaming the hours away.

How riveting. Aside from that, the sentence just doesn’t quite make sense to me? I don’t know. 

Another issue I had with Aurora is that she’s supposed to be around 16 years old in the story? Yet she lacks basic skills, in pretty much everything. For example, math. I know we are not all math geniuses. I’m definitely not. But I’m not stupid! Here’s an example:

Aurora drew a tiny ugly scribble of a sheep. Then she drew four more. She counted them. There were five. She drew two more, farther away. Now there were six. 

Wait. WHAT? Five plus two does NOT equal six! I am so confused at this point. She’s obviously not smart (sorry, but if you can’t do that at 16…), she’s not particularly brave, daring or interesting in any way. I just didn’t like her. Another quote: 

Sometimes she would spend a whole afternoon watching lazy little motes of dust doing their slow dances in the golden light like lazy, otherworldly fairies.

So she stares at dust the entire afternoon? Okay…

Up until now, I didn’t like Aurora, but I figured I’d give the story a try anyway. After a certain point, I was so confused. I didn’t know which timeline was the present, and it all seemed so jumbled. I couldn’t keep what was happening straight! Looking back on it, the answer to the first 30% of the book is in the synopsis (which I didn’t really read). So even the mystery of that would be lost to you if you read the synopsis first. After I figured it out on my own (sorry synopsis), I just had this feeling that I knew where the story was going. And I wasn’t intrigued enough to stick to it. 

Here’s a last quote, to show you at which point I kind of had enough. 

In his own territory, he certainly had more swagger and braggadocio.

Swagger. Braggadocio. I’m out, people. I’m too old to be on board with this language (I’m 21 by the way). 

The story wasn’t captivating enough to overcome the issues I was having with the main character. This is obviously a personal taste and preference, so I’m certainly not saying no one should pick up this book. I’m just saying it wasn’t for me. 

15 thoughts on “DNF Review: Once Upon a Dream

  1. Liz Braswell is off my list after she royally messed up Aladdin with A Whole New World. It looks likes she continues to just….take a lot of artistic royalties with the characters and try to make them more Disney Channel. BLEH.


  2. Oh no! I thought that the story sounded really intriguing and then you said you DNFed it … that makes me sad, but at the same time it also makes me glad that I probably won’t pick it up now. If that makes any sense at all …


  3. “She doesn’t do anything but dance in hallways, sleep, lie in bed and ask herself questions. She doesn’t actually DO anything.”

    Oh man, that sounds like a miserable read; I’d DNF that right along with you. Thanks for warning us off the book! =)


  4. Hopefully the 5 + 2 = 6 is just a typo that’ll be fixed up for the final print! It’s too bad about this book, but I’m not too surprised that you didn’t like Aurora. Even in the Disney version she isn’t likable. Her claim to fame is sleeping after all! This would have been a great chance to create an energetic character, so it’s sad it went in the direction of a girl that really likes to sleep…


  5. Nice review! I am usually a very big fan of fairytale retellings. I have never of the book, or even this series before, but this review has made me a little weary of picking this one up. I love strong, motivated and captivating characters. I will NOT read a book if the characters are not well written and developed. This book will most likely not make its way on my TBR any time soon.


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