Thursday, September 6, 2018

ARC Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

fantasy book reviewMirage
By Somaiya Daud
Mirage #1
ARC: 308 pages
Flatiron Books
August 28, 2018
Categories: Science Fiction, Ya, Fantasy
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My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ |5/5|
Spoiler-free review below

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 was such a fun, fast-paced read for me; I finished it in less than 24 hours! It is a tale rich with Moroccan cultural influences, and the world building is fantastic. I loved the abundance of history and political conflict that was included throughout the story, not to mention the sci-fi vibes! fantasy book reviewI find that most books full of world-building are short on action, yet that was not the case with Mirage. The pacing flowed perfectly, and I always found a reason to read "one more chapter"! As a book nerd, I'm sure you understand what I mean when I say this. You finally turn to the clock and it is somehow 3am and you have no idea how you manged to keep your eyes open for so long. The need to know what happened next was strong in this story!

Amani is a strong female protagonist, my favorite kind. I have had an obsession with these fierce female leads as of late, and Amani did not disappoint. Her drive to protect her family and loved ones is stronger than her fear of her oppressors. She is born and raised a farm-girl on the moon of a distant planet, taken over by a violent race of peoples called the Vath. After the initial invasion and subsequent take-over, everything in her life changed. From surveillance to raids, these superior creatures controlled every aspect of lives in her small village. On the day of Amani's coming of age ceremony, the Vath kidnap her and take her to the capital city where the royals reside. Ziyaana is a city where you can trust no one, especially the royals. She is introduced to Princess Maram and finally realizes why she has been taken from her home. She looks exactly like the Princess. Amani is trained to become Maram's body double, as the Princess is always in danger of assassination. Amani is to replace her at gatherings that involve the public, basically risking her life for someone she despises. If that isn't bad enough, the Vath threaten the lives of her family if she doesn't comply with their demands.

fantasy book review Princess Maram is introduced as a vapid, hateful girl and the reader immediately despises her. I enjoyed her character growth throughout the story though, and found myself almost liking her by the end. Almost. I definitely enjoyed learning more of her back story and why she acts the way that she does. The hatred of her from both sides of her family is sad, and I felt pity for her more times than I care to admit. Maram is engaged to a young native prince named Idris, and his character is important to the story as well. I fell easily in love with him and his open-minded views on politics. Regardless of being forced into an engagement with the enemy, his hope for a better world outweighs his oppression. I enjoyed the inner conflicts of all of the main characters!

All in all, there was nothing about this book that I didn't like. I despised the villains of the story as the reader should, I loved the heroes, and the world was so rich in culture and political intrigue that I couldn't help turning the page over and over again. I highly recommend adding this one to your tbr!

Morrighan <3

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