by Somaiya Daud.
Author site: link.
Review Tagline: Deception and intrigue meet in a vivid story of romance and rebellion.
Blurb: In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, sixteen-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 poetry she loves to hear read, she dreams of one day 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. When she is kidnapped by the government and taken in secret to the royal palace, 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’ fiance, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear, and one wrong move could lead to her death.
Length: 320 pages.
Series: ‘Mirage’ Book 1.
Read as an: eBook.
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this book, it was incredibly refreshing seeing such a rich and conflicting perspective in a character and location. The world that Somaiya Daud has created is intricate and beautiful, there is intrigue and aggression around every corner but there is also family, love, and faith.
In Mirage, Daud has created a fresh story and world. You are drawn into this rich landscape full of intrigue and rebellion, and you are made to care about the unfolding drama of the planet. Mirage also makes you look at both sides of the war and question the true scope of the injustice.
Throughout the book the main character, Amani, undergoes a transformative emotional and physical journey from village girl to stand-in royal. Not only does Daud take us on the emotional journey of Amani as she struggled to fill the role while not losing parts of herself, but we are also offered glimpses into the psyche of Princess Maram. The more time Amani spends as Maram, the more she empathises and sees the warring dualities of her birth. Maram is faces hate and derision from both sides of her family, one side for being half of the conquering people, the other in her ‘otherness’ of the conquered people.
The emotional journey of Amani was such a compelling read; we see the journey from her fear, to her resolve to use her position to help, to her eventual empathy for Maram. Throughout it all though, Amani holds onto her love of her family, her culture, and her strength.
- The poetry. In another life, Armani would have been a poet, writing verse about her people and life. The book is littered with snippets of poems and stories. Poetry is a passion and often Armani reflects on past verses and retellings. I absolutely loved these moments as it made me feel so much more connected to not only Armani as a character but to her culture and the fight of her people.
- Idris and Amani. Be still my tortured and tragic heart. I really cannot wait to see how not only the story unfolds but what ‘the world decides’ for the pair. The scene with Idris’ parents poetry book was so beautiful.
- The beautiful writing. Daud creates a such beautiful landscape and rich environment in her novel. The imagery was vivid and jumped from the page – I am in particular talking about the underground grotto and lake! With each new palace and village, I was given a feel for the characters, the culture, and the history of the people.
Recommendations: For me, Mirage was a breath of fresh air to the Young Adult genre, the story is not only nuanced and full of emotional explorations of the self but it is vivid and beautiful. I would really recommend this to readers who are after a compelling and emotional story, one that makes you empathise with your enemies. Mirage will make you feel.
Please note: I received a copy of ‘Mirage’ from NetGalley.