Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Published by Flatiron Books on August 28, 2018
Series: Mirage #1
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 308 pages Source: OwlCrate
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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.
I love that his book was both science fiction and fantasy. I love that it was built on hope and war and poetry. I loved this book.
I haven’t seen or heard much of Mirage in the bookish world, only the FairyLoot and OwlCrate unboxing photos. I am here to tell you that this book is magnificent. It is sad, but it is also rich and passionate. The characters flow off the page and the flavors and aromas seem to surround you. I really, really liked it.
Mirage is several things – it is a love story, it is a political fantasy, and it is a story of friendship. These three things wind together flawlessly, on influencing the other, until the whole thing is wrapped in a tidy braid. Amani is a brave girl struggling in a dangerous situation. If she fails at her duties, the people she loves will die. If she exceeds, she could create more misery for the rest of her people. The more she gets to know about the people of the palace and the nature of the rebellion, the more muddled things get.
I liked Amani, because she struggled with every decision. She felt the weight of knowledge on her, knowing what she should do, what she wanted to do, and what she was expected to do. Every decision feels like a betrayal and you can feel her discomfort and determination wound together. I liked the real-ness of this. Nobody is so perfect that they fall into a situation and stick their chin out and do the Exact Right Thing every time and everything turns out sunshine and butterflies. Amani felt like any other eighteen-year-old – frightened and hopeful and determined and whinging it.
The love story felt inevitable, but I wasn’t entirely impressed with Idris’s character. I liked him at first, but I knew where his story arc was going and I felt he stumbled into it blindly. He was too changeable and while I think the relation in general was sweet, Idris himself could have used a bit more depth.
Then, there’s Maram. I thought Maram shined. I would love to get inside her head. She is paranoid and cruel while also being vulnerable and determined at the same time. She is a strong character with potential to either be a last-minute hero or a formidable villain and I’d really like to see more of her.
There was a lot that felt original in Mirage that was very refreshing, but it never really felt like science fiction to me. It was more like a rich middle eastern-style fantasy and I thought it was stunning. I am 100% on board with Court of Lions next year.
Mirage is staying on the shelf!
I really enjoyed this one, but I read it quickly, and I read it at many times when I was thoroughly distracted. I’d really like to go through it again sometime, ideally when I can focus on it better and really delve into the world. I also feel like this is one that would be an incredible audiobook? So perhaps I’ll have to try it like that as well.