ARC provided by Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review
Series: Mirage, #1
Author: Somaiya Daud
Genre: YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
My rating: ★★★★★
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.
Mirage follows Amani, a teen who is captured by imperial droids and taken to serve as the body double for Princess Maram; a cruel and hated princess of the Vathek empire. Amani is forced to shed her old identity. She undergoes cosmetic surgery to remove her daan (a religious tattoo with a lot of meaning to her) and receives rigorous lessons on Princess Maram’s personality and mannerisms. Maram is so hated that her life is in jeopardy every time she makes public appearances, therefore Amani takes her place during these functions. If Amani even steps a toe out of line, she is physically beaten and verbally berated.
However, despite the horrors of this new life, Amani finds comfort in poetry and Idris, Princess Maram’s fiancé. Idris and Amani share a common past. Maram’s father had used his forces to “purge” all rebellious groups (including Idris’s family), and has eradicated all customs and language of the rebels.
Now I will discuss a few things that I liked and disliked!
- The culture. This book is Moroccan inspired, which provided such stunning imagery! I loved reading about the traditions and familial heritage. The fact that it was also woven with sci-fi space elements was such a unique twist! I’ve never read anything like this before. On a more serious note, cultural erasure is a very prominent theme throughout the story.
- The romance. Okay, hear me out. While I’m not usually a fan of insta-love, I have to give major props to this one. Knowing ahead of time that Amani was going to have to spend a lot of time with Idris pretty much had me expecting insta-love from the very beginning. So I was totally cool with that. I thought their relationship was organic and beautifully written.
- The friendships. So many morally ambiguous friendships blossom which makes Amani question if she’s doing the right thing or betraying her own family.
- The politics. The politics are mean and cruel, but I’m a big fan of dark politics.
The Bad (but not really):
- The insta-love. I mentioned this earlier as being a good thing, but if you are really not a fan of any insta-love whatsoever, then this might not be your favorite read. I still highly recommend you give it a chance, though!
(That’s it. I really loved everything! LOL)
Mirage was such a joy to read. I wasn’t expecting so many Sci-Fi elements but it was such a pleasant surprise. If you’re into YA sci-fi/fantasy then I recommend you pick up this book on August 28th, 2018!