Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Mirage - Somaiya Daud

Summary:  Her own face was the enemy.  In a world dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer.  She dreams of what life was like before the occupation, of writing poetry, 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 looks 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 knows she is a pisoner in all but name.  Even so, she can't help enjoying the palace's beauty -- and her time with the princess's fiance, 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.  (Summary from book flap - Image from

My Review: In Mirage, a young girl named Amani is brutally ripped from her family and home, kidnapped by the vicious race that murdered thousands and stole the throne from her planet's rightful leaders.  Chosen for her uncanny resemblance to the usurper king's heir-apparent, Amani is quickly thrust into her role as body double for the hated Princess Maram.  In time, Amani learns to mimic the princess in every detail, and risks her life often in the royal's place, but still burns with a fierce determination to survive and return home to her family at all costs.

My favorite thing about Mirage was the setting and cultural aspects of the story, which reminded me a great deal of Cinder and the rest of the Lunar Chronicles series (a book series that I loved).  The cultures aren't the same (Cinder has Asian roots, Mirage has more Arabic origins) but they do have the same intrinsic feel -- a blend of ancient, deeply-rooted cultures and futuristic technology woven together to create a beguiling new world.  However, every good story stands on multiple legs, and setting is just one of them.

While the when and where of this story felt deeply resonant, the whowhat and how of it all sped a long a little too quickly.  I liked the characters, but I feel like I barely got to know them and the story line felt glossed over.  Amani's training to impersonate the princess took less than 25 pages and (SPOILER HERE) Maram's evolution from sadistic mistress to sister happened unnaturally fast. (SPOILER ENDS) It's not that there was anything necessarily wrong with bones of the story, I just wanted more time so that the progress of the story felt organic and unrushed.

Overall, I liked the story (not love, but like) and appreciated the wonderful blend of Arabic culture with space-age tech, I wasn't overly blown away.  It was renter not a keeper, if that makes sense.  I was hoping that Mirage would be a light one-and-done kind of story, but the end made it clear there is another book in the works.  Court of Lions is due to hit bookstores in August 2019.  I may read it it.  I may not.  I'll let you know if I do.

My Rating: 3.25 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  A brief excerpt of lewd poetry (unintentionally given) and one scene where sex is inferred but not described. I can't remember anything else.

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