Mirage, Somaiya Daud – Book Review

Hello Humans! Today’s review is for a wonderfully unique book that took me very much by surprise. Mirage is an own voices Moroccan inspired story and a gorgeous crossover between fantasy and science fiction and I was very lucky to get to read it a little before the release date. This book has a whole host of things that I love, female characters who are competent, tough ethical choices, revolution, dresses – it’s just great.

mirage

Goodreads 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.

Find On Goodreads | Amazon UK (Affiliate)

I started Mirage without realising there was going to be a science fiction element. Don’t judge me for not reading the blurb before starting – I was out in the world with no internet. But the worldbuilding in Mirage is so gorgeous that I’m almost glad that was my starting point so that I could be surprised by the interplanetary setting, and learn about it completely afresh. The different cultures in this book and the power dynamics between them are inordinately well-written. The detail is given throughout the book without having any huge info-dumps which is my preferred method of worldbuilding as I think it helps everything to feel more real.

Obviously, and I probably ought to have started with this, I am a white lady and there will certainly be a good number of nuances that I will miss in the reading of this. Any errors I make in my interpretation are accidental and I apologise. I recommend keeping an eye out for own voices reviews either on the Goodreads page or on the internet. If I find any I will come back and link them here.

I thought Amani was a great main character, she has a lot of fight to her but, for the most part, she makes sensible and believable choices. I’m all for a flawed character but I enjoyed the fact that Amani had a real sense of the danger she was in and was therefore quite calculating as a character. You get the feeling that she thinks through her decisions, that she’s aware of the choices she makes.

When Amani is impulsive it tends to be in relation to the romance aspect of this book, her budding interest in the princess’ fiancé Idris does take up a lot of the narrative. For some people, this may seem a little worn out as a plot device, but I think that this story handles it in a great way, it doesn’t feel gratuitous, it feels very real and very pertinent to the plot.

The poetry and the way it was brought into the plot was one of the most compelling aspects of this book, in my opinion. I’ve read a lot of books that incorporate poetry for whatever reason (often it’s prophecy), but the way this book used poetry and Amani’s love for it as an example of the cultural erasure in this setting was incredibly powerful.

I loved this as a book on its own but I think I love it even more as a set-up to a second novel. The character development and the development of relationships are so wonderfully done that I just want to read more.

My rating: 5/5 stars

Mirage publishes on the 23rd of August 2018. If you like you can preorder now in your local bookshop or via Amazon (affiliate link).

I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

 

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