I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Release date: August 28th, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Young adult, science fiction
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.
As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.
This. Book. Completely. Utterly. Totally. Destroyed me and I loved every single second of it. Mirage is a MUST read and my favourite book so far this year! I first became interested in reading it after it appeared everywhere on Twitter. So many bloggers were raving about it. I loved the cover and synopsis, but to be completely honest was a bit skeptical. I’ve been burnt multiple times by books that have been overly hyped on Twitter. However, this wasn’t the case with Mirage. This book is the real deal and I can’t stop recommending it to people. YOU REALLY NEED TO READ IT!
The story focuses on a teenaged girl named Amani. She begins the story living on a small forgotten about moon with her family. On her eigthteeth birthday she is kidnapped by imperial droids and taken to the residence of the Vathek royal family. Why? Because Amani looks very similar to the heartless and cruel Princess Maram. The royal family are constantly under threat from rebel groups who want to stop the Vathek’s galactic expansion and the obliteration of cultures, religions and unique ways of life that accompanies a take over. So, since Princess Maram fears for her life, she forces Amani to become her body double or face execution.
The main themes of the novel were cultural identity, family and suppression. From the moment Amani was taken by the Vathek she was constantly challenged. They wanted to strip her of her cultural identity, which is what shaped her into the person that was she. They forced her to leave behind everything she knew and become someone else. She had to learn their mannerisms, etiquette and traditions in order to pretend to be Princess Maram. Failure to do so would result in physical and verbal abuse.
The world building in Mirage was very well done. The blending of science fiction (droids, space travel and advanced technology) with Moroccan culture and traditions made it very unique. I appreciated how the author didn’t dump information on the reader. Aspects of the world, its complex cultures, traditions, peoples, etc. was revealed as time went on. It actually made me feel like Amani…I was trying to learn and navigate a world I knew nothing about. The slow reveal of information made me want to read on and on. For some people this may be a turn-off, but I love it when books do this. Also, the way the author writes was so magical. I could perfectly imagine what was described, how a character was feeling, etc.
The romance was a a tiny bit rushed at the beginning. Amani and Princess Maram’s fiancé, Idris, kind of fell for each other to quickly and easily. However, I can completely forgive it because their relationship was so fascinating and dangerous. Let me just say that I totally adored Idris. Besides being a character that you can’t help but fall in love with, my heart hurt for him and his backstory. It was like he felt the weight of the world on his shoulders and the pain of thousands of people. Him and Amani had so much in common and I couldn’t help but route for them as I read through the story. They are now one of my favourite book couples!
This is seriously one of the best releases of 2018! I’m so happy that I received an early copy, but also so sad because now I’ll have to wait even longer for the sequel. I WANT MORE! Anyway, I can’t recommend this wonderful book enough. GO GET YOUR COPY RIGHT NOW!! I can guarantee you’ll be just as addicted as I was. ❤
About the Author
Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment. Mirage is her debut.
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Check out the other posts from today by clicking on the blog links below. Also, thank you to Aimee, Always for organizing the tour!