by Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Genres: Fantasy, 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.
Better death than slavery…I’d thought then such a declaration was a product of youth and its bravado…But – there were people who believed that. Who would rather die than suffer under our occupation. People who would rather risk their lives in the hopes that their children might live to see a better tomorrow.
I’d become one of them.
This book actually took me far longer to read than I anticipated. Generally, this is not a good sign for a 300 page young adult novel but with Mirage it was a little different. It became pretty clear from the beginning that I was a little out of my league with this one. I’m just so un-used to science fiction that my reading fluency was embarrassingly poor. There were just too many strange names, people and descriptions that I had to pause too many times to figure it out. In my opinion, reading fluency has just as much to do with the reader as it does with the author, so I can’t hold Daud too much at fault here. Still, if SF/F is not something you read a lot, it may take you a bit to get into the flow. For me, I finally got there around 40% of the way through.
But even with this personal difficulty, Mirage was such a pleasure to read.
Hope. Hard won, soaked in blood, a hope that burned as much as lit her way. The opposite of what I’d nurtured while still on Catiz. That had been a bright, gleaming thing, reflective like a moon in the sky.
First of all, for a debut novel, I was impressed with Daud’s voice. Amani was a wonderful, strong and believable hero & she is surrounded by a cast of fantastic side characters – each one just as full and tragic as the last. I absolutely adored Princess Maram. She has a fantastic vein of cruelty in her but at the same time just the right amount of vulnerability that you really have no idea what side she is really on.
At the same time, Idris is sweet and playful. He is a breath of fresh air among the brutal backdrop of Vathek rule. But of course, he is not that simple. He has his own demons, just like everyone else. I love how the events of the past, all happening so long ago that our main cast really had no hand in them, still effects each character in their own unique way. There are so many tragic consequences to their war.
And then of course, there is a delicious streak of feminism weaved into the backbone of the novel. Without forcing it down your throat or even making it too obvious – it just is. Women are the heroes of this world, and that alone is something to be excited about.
“…you are not defined by the men in your life, no matter how powerful. You lived before them and you shall live after them. You can’t let them determine your path.”
There were a few things that I didn’t love overall about Mirage. I would have liked to see a little more of an ending, as opposed to the set up to Book #2 that we got. Especially with debut authors, I’m less forgiving about not giving me an excellent ending. In the same vein, I’m not sure why Daud thought she needed to include the Prologue. To me in was unnecessary and it made the climatic moments at the end of the novel less impactful. It felt like we were building to something big. Unfortunately, the drama just sort of petered out and resolved far too quickly.
But, while the ending was only so-so, Daud definitely delivered on the final scene. She got me excited for the next installment. And I guess if that’s what you’re ultimately left with, it could be worse… 🙂
“We have this,” I said, and laid a hand on his heart. “But the world will decide what becomes of us.”
He pressed a kiss to my forehead. “I am tired of being at the mercy of the world.”
Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment. Mirage is her debut, and is due from Flatiron Books in 8/28/2018.
And finally, here is your chance to WIN a copy of Mirage
This contest is open to the US only and will run through 8/30.
Follow the rest of the tour with us 🙂