Mirage by Somaiya Daud (Review)

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Information

Goodreads: Mirage
Series: Mirage #1
Source: Purchased
Published: Aug. 28, 2018

Official Summary

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.

Star Divider

Review

Mirage is a beautifully written YA novel that will appeal to readers looking for a story about strength in the face of adversity and the importance of one’s heritage.  From the first pages, I was drawn in by the beautiful prose and the complex characterizations, and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Amani starts the book reasonably frightened by the powerful people who watch over her after she is kidnapped to act as the hated princess’s secret body double, but her time observing the intrigue and ruthlessness at the court quickly turn her into a quick-witted, sharp-tongued young woman whom readers will want to see succeed.  Her growth over the course of the story is one of the best things to watch.  And many of the other characters grow with her, including Maram herself.  The plot  as Amani navigates her new role and considers how she can use it to benefit her people, who have been oppressed under Maram’s father, is interesting, but Mirage is refreshingly driven more by character growth than by flashy action sequences or cliffhanging plot points.

There were only two things I struggled with.  First, I agree with Krysta that the science fiction setting of the novel was not well-developed.  The book reads like high fantasy, except it takes place on some fictional planets and moons, and there’s the occasional mention of a servant droid or someone carrying a phaser.  These elements were in no way integral to the plot, and I was surprised and jarred out of the story every time the word “droid” came up because I’d completely forgotten the book was set in space, which is a big problem.

Second, because Amani almost immediately needs to begin impersonating Princess Maram, I didn’t feel as if I got to know Amani as an actual person until a decent way into the book; seeing more scenes with her acting as herself at the beginning of the story could have been helpful.  It also didn’t help that Amani does not really immediately know how to act like Maram, so she opts for silence in a large percentage of interactions, which means she’s not doing much as herself or as Maram for a while. She does this even with Maram’s fiance because apparently no one thought to tell the secret body double how Maram even feels about the guy so she knows how to act around him.   Awkward.

However, these are minor details in the grand scheme of things, and I highly recommend Mirage to fans of YA fantasy (yes, fantasy; if you’re looking for hardcore sci-fi, this just isn’t it).  It feels fresh, but it also has depth to the characters and depicted cultures that is reminiscent of fantasy classics.

4 starsBriana

17 thoughts on “Mirage by Somaiya Daud (Review)

  1. Kelly Brigid says:

    Beautifully written review! I really enjoyed this novel for many of the reasons you listed, but definitely agree that the sci fi elements were far too vague, and felt disconnected from the world.

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      Yes! I liked just about everything except the fact the author seems to keep forgetting the technology exists! And what does one do with that in the sequel? Make it more sci-fi, so now the books don’t match? Or just keep ignoring the world building?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Grab the Lapels says:

    I kind of miss hardcore science fiction stories. There are so many books now that are set in outer space, but you would never know. For example, are all of these characters supposed to be human? And if they are human, then how are they breathing. Are they wearing space helmets? All these things need to be dealt with in the world building, and authors are really failing us on that front.

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      That’s a good point. This one is so wishy-washy. It’s just like “They got in the shuttle to the moon,” and that’s the end of the mention of technology. Because likely the author has no idea what the shuttle looks like or how it functions, what would happen if it broke, etc. I hate to say it, but I feel as if the author just thought that making it sci-fi would be cool but didn’t put any thought into it beyond that. The cultural world building is all there–but the book should have been fantasy.

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  3. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    Great review, Briana! I will admit, this is the first time it’s been drawn to my attention that you and Krysta might read and review the same books on this blog. How did I miss that? O_o

    I’ve heard wonderful things about character development and relationships in this book. It’s a shame that this feels more like fantasy than science fiction. 😦 I am always sad when world-building leaves a story unknowable. I’ve DNF’d many books because I couldn’t tell if this was our reality, space, or an alternate reality. These elements are so important for a series!

    Will you pick up the rest of the books as they are published?

    Like

    • Briana | Pages Unbound says:

      I’m actually not sure if anyone notices! No one has ever commented on it before! :p Sometimes I figure enough time has passed since Krysta’s review that it wouldn’t be repetitive if I also did one, but she did review Mirage recently…

      Yes! I have no idea where this is supposed to take place! It could be in our universe on a distant planet like Star Wars, or it could be a different universe. So unclear!

      I did like it overall, so I do plan to read the rest of the series!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Kaleena @ Reader Voracious says:

    Great review! I loved this book but agree on the sci-fi… i struggled with even categorizing it because it read more like fantasy but there wasn’t any magic, but “set in space” isn’t really enough for sci-fi imo. Thankfully it didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the book!

    Liked by 1 person

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