I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage #1
Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 28th August 2018
Genres: YA Fantasy, Sci-Fi
The crown of Dihya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken.
But 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.
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, and of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventures, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped 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 to appear in public, 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 and 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.
A Wee Bit About Mirage
Andala and its people is under the occupation of The Vath – a people who ruined their own planet and set about conquering others.
Amani is an 18-year-old girl living on Cadiz, a moon of Andala. Living with her parents, she’s the daughter of a farmer and has two brothers. Her family are Kushaila, which are the oldest tribe on Andala, and disdained by The Vath who are slowly eradicating their people, language and customs.
On the night that Amani and her peers join together to make the journey to adulthood, the village has a celebration in the kasbah whereby those of age receive their Daan (a face tattoo that denotes their heritage). The majority night is interrupted by Imperial droids who kidnap Amani, taking her in secret to the Ziyaana, the imperial palace that now hosts the Vathek King Mathis and his new court.
It transpires that Amani is the double of the King’s daughter, Princess Maram. She is rumoured to be as cruel as her father, and despite being half Kushaila (her late mother was Andalaan royalty) she holds the same Vathek beliefs and attitudes as the King.
Maram, like her father, is hated by the Andalaan people. With the Princess’ life often under threat, Amani is tasked with becoming Maram. She is to take Maram’s place at events and fool those around her into believing it is Maram who is in their midst. Amani’s life is at risk as she takes Maram’s place, but it’s also in great danger should she fail.
The storyline of Mirage piqued my interest when I read the blurb online. However what I ended up enjoying most wasn’t actually the story itself, but rather the world in which it was set.
Although set in space (which I wasn’t really expecting), Mirage doesn’t particularly feel sci-fi. I guess I might compare it to The Lunar Chronicles in that respect – it feels more fantasy than sci-fi.
Amani’s story is set in a world with an Arabian feel. Daud has created a rich world, exploring colonisation and culture. It was this world, its cultures, mythologies and Daud’s descriptions and writing itself that I enjoyed most.
I found the relationship between Amani and Maram interesting. I like it when we get to see a bit more to our ‘villain’ and the development of their interactions was something I really enjoyed.
Sadly, I did not enjoy the romance aspect of this book. I won’t get into much detail but, for me, it fell into the ‘instalove’ category. I struggled to get on board with it, I wanted to, but I just felt it needed more foundation. Just my personal opinion.
Overall, it was the world and detailed culture that I enjoyed most. Daud’s descriptions and scene-settings transported me to this world. I found the politics interesting but I was just left wanting more from the story itself.
That said, I am intrigued to see how this series will progress. No spoilers, but I’m hoping for more politics and maybe a bit more action.