There are no spoilers in this review.
Mirage was one of these books I had heard of, but wasn’t certain that it would be my cup of tea. See, even if book blogging has made me way more into fantasy books than I ever thought I would be, made me dabble into sci-fi just as well, I wasn’t sure that I would love this world. Yet I am thrilled to say that this book was a beautiful surprise for me.
A million thank-yous to the beautiful Aimee @ Aimee Always for the opportunity to be part of this blog tour. Thank you to her and the publisher, Flatiron Books, for sending me an e-ARC of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.
INTRIGUING (BUT A BIT CONFUSING) WORLD
“On a small moon orbiting a large planet, in a small farmhouse in a small village, there was a box, and in this box was a feather.”
Mirage is a story about oppression, where a young girl, Amani, living with her family on a moon, poorly and facing oppression every day, is kidnapped by imperial droids and taken to the royal empire, only to realize she is the exact body-double of the princess and future heir of the throne. I have to admit that I was really nervous about the setting and world-building of this story, not being too familiar with sci-fi overall and, in the end, that’s what confused me the most. I could appreciate the world-building a whole lot, intricate and detailed, with North African and Moroccan inspirations (this is an #ownvoices Moroccan story) and some of it was quite fascinating. Yet, I felt more often than once a bit confused by it just as well, by the politics overall.
GREAT CHARACTERS CARRYING THE STORY TO ANOTHER LEVEL
Despite this confusion at times, I ended up appreciating Mirage way more than I thought I would and it’s all because of the characters. If the story is a bit slow-paced, the characters won me over more than once and they were the shining stars in this story. Mirage is definitely a character-driven book and I am ALL here for this.
Amani, our main character, is forced to take the princess’ place, to learn how to be her, to act and speak just like her in order to fool everyone. Amani struggles to find her own place and sense of identity in it all, yet as the story goes on, she manages to find herself and her cause, her will to fight and everything else. She is passionate and fierce, I had such a great time with her.
“I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.”
Yet, the shining star in the story really was… well, strangely, the Princess Maram. Her character arc was incredible, she was flawed, complex, she was mean and cruel yet she slowly grew, developed and showed who she really was as relationships with Amani developed. I loved it so, very much and she was my favorite in the entire story for sure.
CHARACTERS’ INTERACTIONS & FAMILY TIES: THE HEART AND LOVE OF THE STORY
Both the characters and their relationships to each other were really shining in this book, even more than the world-building, which is something I did not expect, but loved. I am a huge character kind of reader, as you know, so I was thrilled.
The relationships between Maram and Amani were fantastic and it was great to see them grow, change as the story went on. The romance was also great to read about: I appreciated how the two characters got to know each other and grew close to each other. The evolution of the relationship into a romance was a tad predictable, but I didn’t mind that much, because the characters were really adorable to follow together.
“There was no happy ending to this story, no way for the two of us to make one.”
The family dynamics in this story were also really interesting to follow, from Amani’s ties to her own family, the separation and suffering of being far away from her home, to Maram’s complex relationship with her own father and the expectations he has for her as future heir of the kingdom…It was all really, really a great addition to the story.
“Happiness is rebellion.”
If you’re looking for a great #ownvoices Moroccan inspired story, really focusing on character interactions and development, I’d definitely recommend Mirage. It’s a bit slow-paced, but the characters, for me, makes it all worth it. Complex, flawed and amazing overall, they shine in this story and make this a definitely promising first book to a series I’m curious to follow.
Final rating: 3 drops!
Trigger warnings: physical abuse, kidnapping, death, murder, grief and cultural erasure.
All quotes are taken from the e-ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Somaiya Daud, Mirage, Published by Flatiron Books, August, 28th, 2018.
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.
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.
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Did you read Mirage? Do you want to? Why, or why not?
Do you like your fantasies character-driven? Do you know other books with character-driven stories like this one? Let me know in comments!