Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Genre: YA Fantasy, Science Fiction, Adventure
Publication: August 28th 2018 by Flatiron Books
Series: Mirage #1
Length: 320 pages
Format: ARC from the publisher
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.
Huge thanks to my friends from Flatiron Books / Macmillan International for sending me a review copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. This did not, in any way, affect my overall opinion of the book and/or the story.
I received an unsolicited review copy of this title months ago, and if it not for my friends from Macmillan, I wouldn’t have found out that there’s an awesome book like Mirage, that’s already gracing shelves everywhere. When I received this, I didn’t know anything about Somaiya Daud’s debut, but I do remember being completely astonished by the cover. After checking it out on Goodreads, I immediately made a spot for this book high up on my TBR, and I’m so elated to have been able to read this just last week. Now, read on to know what I thought of this fabulous novel!
Mirage is a Morrocan-inspired, #ownvoices Science Fiction novel that puts a spotlight on Amani, the main character of the story, who is captured on her majority night to pose as the royal Princess Maram’s body double, ready to die in her place at any time. It’s a story that is told with the help of an amazingly diverse cast of characters, one that a lot of readers would enjoy if they’re on the lookout for a book that’s completely character-driven.
As always, I’m gonna start this review by being completely honest about my thoughts. To my dismay, this book’s pacing, especially for the first 100 pages, was extremely slow and unproductive. At first, I had a hard time trying to grip the tone of the story and so it took me a couple of days to get the hang of the writing. Once I realized, though, that the story focused more on culture, tension, and character development rather than investing on the actual plot, I easily overcame the overall pacing of the story. I even ended up appreciating the pacing more because towards the ending of the novel, I found myself craving for more.
One more thing that I unexpectedly loved was the romance aspect of the story. Don’t mistake this statement for what it is, though, because I didn’t really like the M/F relationship between Amani and Idris. I thought that they had way better chemistry as close friends who had each other’s backs rather than as two people who were romantically connected. If I’m being honest, I would’ve loved this more if Amani and Princess Maram realized that they’re perfect, not as sisters, but as lovers(!!!). I don’t know if this will entail one hell of a complicated relationship, seeing that they may look alike but they come from completely different walks of life, but it doesn’t hurt to dream, right? But still, I appreciated the relationship dynamics that Amani had with both Idris and Maram, and I really enjoyed her story more because of these characters.
One last thing that I really enjoyed were the world building, the fascinating religion, and the well-established history that this book had. The idea of a story that’s richly based on oppression and political intrigue while incorporating hundred years worth of back story easily caught my attention and so even though I thought that this book moved way slower than I could’ve handled, I decided again and again to power through every single page of the story. I appreciated all of the technical aspects that this book offered, and so to see everything carefully and tightly woven in a story completely had me smitten.
“What makes Mirage stand out, in my opinion, is that no reader has read anything quite like it. Somaiya Daud’s debut is unlike any other, and yet, it’s completely reminiscent of every reason as to why I love reading fantasy stories. It’s fresh, it’s unique, and it’s adorned with cultural definitions that help readers get easily accustomed to the story. With a writing style that’s compelling, a central, character-driven plot that’s captivating, a diverse cast of characters who were easy to root for, world building that’s completely graphic and vivid, no doubt Mirage would easily land a place in the hearts of many Fantasy lovers.”
Have YOU read Mirage yet? If not, be sure to check out now! And once you do, let me know what you think of it down below in the comments section!
And while you’re at it, please check out these other fantastic reviews for Somaiya Daud’s debut novel, Mirage:
- Shealea’s review at That Bookshelf Bitch
- Kate’s review at The Backwards Bookshelf
- Aimee’s review at Aimee Always
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 published by Flatiron Books on August 28, 2018.
Until the next one!
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