Good morning, bookwyrms! Today I’m excited to help kick off the MIRAGE blog tour, hosted by Aimee @ Aimee, Always! I’ll be sharing my review as well as a fabulous giveaway so keep on scrolling!
by Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage #1
Published on August 28, 2018 by Flatiron Books
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
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.
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I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like Mirage before. It’s young adult for sure, though the character ages fall on the cusp, but the world itself feels like a lush mix of fantasy and science fiction that immediately caught my attention. After finishing this book, I don’t remember the characters so much as the world.
This Moroccan-inspired novel follows Amani as she’s dragged away from her home on a distant moon to become the body double for a princess. Talk about a shock. You can’t help but feel for her as she’s stripped of everything that connected her to her people and forced to become brutal and cold like Princess Maram. All around I expected great things here because the premise alone was intriguing. But Mirage fell a bit flat at times.
It’s slow. There’s no other way around it. The action is dulled by the intense focus on Amani and her feelings, her relationship with Maram, with Maram’s fiancé Idris, and how she’s handling the entire situation. While not a bad thing, it just didn’t appeal to me as a reader. I definitely needed more to stay engaged. Especially when the romance was introduced.
For the record, this book was by no means bad but the romance is what knocked a star off my rating. I can get behind insta-love and love triangles in the right situations, but this romance was too much of a whirlwind to buy into it. Almost immediately after meeting each other, Amani and Idris have chemistry (or we’re supposed to believe they do because I wasn’t feeling it). And from that point on, the romance consumed the story. All of which I don’t understand because there’s such a strong focus on the characters’ internal decisions that you’d think the romance would excel.
I. Love. Romances. I do. But not when I don’t ship it and it just wasn’t there. Amani became lovestruck and I lost interest in her.
It’s a shame because her and Maram’s relationship was my favorite. Enemies-to-friends, each questioning their opinions of the other, they showed growth. There wasn’t an easy way out for them. I wanted more of that. They showed such strength of character, especially Amani and what she endures, how she continues pushing forward no matter what. . . it’s inspiring. When we talk about strong female characters, this is what I’m talking about. It’s not about being physically strong (though there’s nothing wrong with that) but a mental strength.
But the characters didn’t sell it for me.
I breezed through this book and that’s largely in part to the world-building. I wasn’t so interested in the writing style but the actual world–this combination of droids and moons and intricate cultures and faith–sold me from page one. I would read the sequel simply for more of that world. Mirage hits on some tough topics too, spanning colonialism from its overall impact to other cultures down to its effect on the everyday person. It’s not a perspective I often see (generally it seems to be the flip side where a colonizer develops sympathy). We need this book and Amani’s story. We need this perspective.
I think Mirage is going to be a smash hit when it comes out. I had issues with it, primarily with the romance and pacing, but it’s a solid debut and I definitely plan to read the sequel.
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One winner will receive a copy of Mirage by Somaiya Daud! Open to US residents only. Enter using the Rafflecopter below.
This giveaway is hosted by a third party. NovelKnight is not responsible for the winner selection or provision/mailing of prizes.