Title: Mirage (Mirage #1)
Author: Somaiya Daud
No. of pages: Hardcover; 320 pgs.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Date Read: July 8, 2018
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Her own face is the enemy.
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, of writing poetry like the old-poems she adores, of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have an 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 looks 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 enjoying 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.
Thanks to Flatiron Books for sending me this gorgeous review copy of Mirage.
This book was one of my highly anticipated books for 2018, and y’all. It did not disappoint. Mirage follows Amani, an eighteen-year-old who lives on the Andalaan moon, Cadiz. As Amani approaches the night where she gets her daan (a symbolic face tattoo as an inheritance from her people), we see her love for old-world poetry, adventure, and family. Right after the ceremony, she is kidnapped and left to wonder what has happened to the family and friends that were left behind in the chaos. She soon finds out that she is a doppelgänger for the Princess of the new regime that has conquered her world. The Princess, Maram, who is widely hated has been under threat and Amani is to be her body double. In a few short months, she is required to learn how to mimic the Princess exactly or die. As Amani steps into her role as a body double and learns how to be Maram, she finds the beauty of the palace, the Princess’ fiancé, and the Princess’ extended family on her mother’s side are truly welcoming. And that falling into a sense of comfort is not where one wants to be when her life, and her families lives, are on the line.
I absolutely adored this book for so many reasons. I’ve got so many pages tabbed. I’ve had to reread a few parts because they’re genuinely so well written and so insightful into the characters in the book. The world of Andala is simply stunning. The details that Daud has woven into this book are absolutely beautiful. Both in creating a world that can be described visually, but also in writing of a culture that expands the beauty that we can witness today. As I understand it, Daud’s Moroccan heritage was a big inspiration to this book. I’m so glad that I got to read such a small part of what she has to offer, both of her writing and of her culture. I can’t wait to read more.
One thing I really liked about this book was the stark differences between Amani and Maram, but also the commonalities between them. Maram is super hard. She’s rude, she’s sharp-tongued, she’s hated everywhere. Amani is the complete opposite; she loves, she’s kind, she’s compassionate. As the princess training begins, Maram is ruthless towards Amani. Amani, through pain and torture, does what is asked. She is determined to not fail, not just for her life but also her family’s. As she becomes more accustomed to acting like Maram, Amani sees that Maram acts that way a good deal to protect herself. Maram’s Vathek side is ruthless, her Andalaan side has been so neglected that she doesn’t know how to connect with it. As Amani begins to spend time with Maram, Maram begins to learn small things about a part of herself that was never known to her before. From the start, I loved Amani. She was strong-willed and determined. About three quarters into the book, I began to like Maram’s character. She needed people, and Amani became her person.
Another thing that I really liked was Amani’s strong connection to her culture. Though technically her culture and language were outlawed once the Vathek’s conquered her world, her family still honored the traditions of the past. Through the daan ceremony, speaking their native tongue, seeking signs from Dihya, or reading in their native language, Amani’s family expressed their culture unashamedly as they should have. They were so proud of where they had come from. And through all Amani went through in the palace during training and serving as the body double, she leaned on that for strength.
Daud has written one incredible, beautiful, and inspired book. She’s created characters and world-scapes that you can’t help but fall in love with. This book is one that I loved to read and wanted more once I finished. It was one that broke my heart and put it back together. Mirage releases on August 28th, 2018. Make sure to check it out! You won’t be disappointed.