**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****
Series: Mirage #1
Written by: Somaiya Daud
Published: August 28, 2018 by Flatiron Books (Macmillan)
Synopsis: 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.
I wanted to get a copy of this book at ALA but I did not get one for some reason. But I had seen some really good really good reviews of this one so I was really glad to be a part of the blog tour through Fantastic Flying Book Club. This definitely sounded like a good and interesting science fiction read and while I enjoyed some aspects of the book, it didn't completely blow me away.
Lately I have been reading so many books with very cool and creative worlds, and Mirage was no exception. Probably one of the most unique things about this book is that it is a science fiction book with a Middle Eastern inspiration. Desert landscapes are common in science fiction but one that was so grounded in the setting and culture of the people of the desert and Middle East is not something I think I have read before. It was definitely cool and I really enjoyed being able to experience the culture. Especially because it's a book which has it's own history and mythology and you know I love that. And the author did a really good job of showing the reader the world instead of telling them. In fact, she may have done too good a job. I felt like I wanted to learn so much more about the science fiction aspect of the book and we didn't get that.
The other thing that I liked about this book was the characters, especially the female characters. Amani was a really good main character. She is the kind of female character that I love in that she is not your typical kickass femme fatale. She's vulnerable and a reluctant hero who is forced into a terrible position and has to show a lot of inner strength to make it through. She's easy to get behind in that way because you are in her head and can completely sympathize. But there were other really interesting and complex characters. One of the ones I liked best was Maram, the princess who Amani becomes the body double for. Maram could have easily become a total cliche bad girl, but she was super complex and had really great development throughout the book. I wish her father Mathias had a little more development and screen time because he was really interesting and could have gone very dark but he wasn't around much.
If you read this book then you may have noticed that I didn't mention Idris as a character that I liked, and believe me there is a reason for that. It's not that I didn't like Idris, who by the way is the love interest. He was a fine character. I just really hated the romance here. This is probably no surprise to most of you, I don't like a lot of romance. But here it was really tough because the romance was so much a part of this book and I really wish it wasn't. This had all the hallmarks of romances I don't enjoy. The character fell hard and fell fast after what was definitely insta-love. And she made so many of her decisions based on her feelings for this guy. I felt like the romance kind of took over the plot of the book in portions, which is something a lot of people love but I am not one of those people.
Which, brings me to the portion of the book I wish was different, the plot. There was a lot of promise to this book when it came to the plot but it just didn't deliver for me. There was a good amount of political intrigue here. I love books that combine fish out of water stories along with court politics and that's what this book had. For me, it was at it's best when it was focusing on the rebellion and the relationship between the rulers and the people they ruler. There were some really good scenes where it explored these aspects of the story. But I wish there were more of them. It got there in the end and I think the next book in the series is going in a really great direction, but in this one it just felt like it had a little bit of first book syndrome.
I liked this book but I feel like I'm a bit of a black sheep here. Maybe it was the hype monster, maybe it was first book syndrome, or maybe this just wasn't my kind of read. However, it did have some great things like a really good world and complex characters.
I give Mirage by Somaiya Daud 7.5 out of 10 stars
Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow. I don't know that I would recommend this book to fans of hard science fiction, but if you like romances especially fantasy and sci-fi with a strong romance plot. And I am intrigued to see where this series goes.
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mirage-somaiya-daud/1124880923#/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Mirage-Somaiya-Daud/9781250126429
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Prize: One finished copy of Mirage by Somaiya Daud (USA only)