Hello fellow bookworms 👑 I was fortunate enough to get a spot on the Blog Tour of Mirage, organized by the lovely Aimee from Aimee Always! I’m beyond excited and gerateufl to be on the tour as Mirage was one of my Most Anticipated Releases for the rest of the year, which is why I couldn’t believe I would get to read it early. I’m coming to you with information about the book and author, my Review and a great Giveaway that you can participate in(US only)! Please make sure to also check out all the other posts by the tour participants, that are linked in the Schedule down below 💕
August 20th (Monday)
August 21st (Tuesday)
August 22nd (Wednesday)
August 23rd (Thursday)
August 24th (Friday)
August 27th (Monday)
August 28th (Tuesday)
August 29th (Wednesday)
August 30th (Thursday)
August 31st (FRIDAY)
CW’s: Abuse, Violence, Kidnapping, Torture
Author: Somaiya Daud
Date of Publication: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
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.
Find the Book Here!
About the Author
Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment.
- One finished copy of MIRAGE (US only)
- You can find the Giveaway here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/a755c7ef43/?
- Good luck 💕🍀
“The crown of Dhiya has been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken. But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way home.”
** This Quote was taken from an Arc and is subject to changes
The World building was incredible and atmospheric. It’s Moroccan inspired (ownvoices too), which was cool to see, even though I probably didn’t catch a lot of how the culture and history translated into the book. However, here is a really great Review that talks a bit about how the book was drawn from recent Moroccan history, if you’re interested. Because of the mentioned history, the book has a focus on oppression and translates into a sci-fi setting, which was really well done. The world felt vivid and interesting, mainly due to the focus on native poetry and legends, which made the world come alive and added an extra layer of depth! Like I mentioned, we also get a huge insight on the Kushaila people and their culture through the main character. That also included the Vathek oppression, who have colonized almost all of the galaxy, while erasing native culture and history wherever they go. The book perfectly talks about this topic in-depth, especially about the complex history and consequences that the occupation has caused. I don’t really have words for how well done it was, but let me just say that this book is important. Furthermore, I wanted to mention that Mirage felt more like fantasy at times (at least when it comes to the overall atmosphere), which isn’t bad as I love Fantasy. In truth the book is light sci-fi. That’s perfect for beginners, who might be overwhelmed by more heavy sci-fi.
I have only complaint when it comes to the world building. Why are there people who look exactly like someone else? Maram obviously knew there was someone who looked like her and searched for Amani, yet it’s never explained why they look-alike. It hopefully will be explained in the sequel, but I didn’t think it was a good choice to keep the reader completely in the dark. Since Maram didn’t seem to be too surprised about having a double, it seemed weird why she never explained how she knew this, because obviously she had to know, since she actively searched for Amani. My personal theory? Probably something with clones, that would be cool and it’s sci-fi so who knows?
Amani was such a great protagonist to have. For starters, I immediately loved the relationship she had with her family and friends, it was great to see it, before everything went to hell and she was kidnapped. Amani – rightfully – starts out as scared and lonely. She is dragged away by those who oppressed her people to serve as a body double to the princess who is so hated by the Kushaila people that she fears to go outside. The beginning is very hard to read, because there’s a lot of abuse and violence that Amani has to endure when she is forced to learn how to best become like Maram. It was heartbreaking to watch what they did to her and how they stripped her of things belonging to her culture and identity. However, Amani endures. She grows stronger and more confident, she becomes exactly why they wanted her to be and she excels at it. Still, Amani is also very kind and feels for her people. It was great to see her love for her own culture and people, that prompted her to take risks and try to help as much as she could in her unique position. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing where her journey leads her, as in the end things are going down and … Amani makes mistakes (even though I never thought she was guilty, this girl did the best she could and acted incredibly selfless), but there is also hope. You’ll see what I mean when you get to the end.
I hated Maram a lot in the beginning, but she was a well crafted antagonist. Obviously I’m not willing to forget how she treated Amani in the beginning, it was horrible and definitely not okay. The strength of Maram as an antagonist is that you can actually understand her actions, even if you don’t agree with them. She isn’t evil just because, she has motivations and a background story, which is something that takes a villan to the next level. Yes I hated her, but through Amani’s observations, we also saw that Maram’s life had forged her into this person as well. We saw how her heritage of both Vathek and Kushaila made her an outsider on both sides, made her feel alone wherever she went. How do you best protect yourself against that? By being cruel, mean, cold and never letting anyone get close, so they don’t betray you. It doesn’t make Maram a good person, but you could kind of understand where she was coming from and why she decided to reject her Kushaila heritage. She responded with rage and hatred to protect herself. Throughout the course of the book we also see Amani and Maram’s relationship growing from hatred to something more positive which I really didn’t expect as Maram was so horrible in the beginning. But I think that every good book should have a dynamic between the protagonist and antagonist that gets explored and that’s exactly what happens here. Amani can help her discover more of her rejected heritage and after a while Maram even opens up, prompting Amani to consider that there is hope for her becoming a better queen as her father. Still, their relationship is messy and if you’ve read the book you know why.
I liked the romance and love interest. The romance is between Amani and Maram’s fiance and it’s a forbidden romance, which is one of my favorite romance tropes, so I was thrilled! Idris was a very kind person and certainly had his charm, so it was very easy to like him and root for his relationship with Amani. He was the only person she could be truly open with and he actually understood her situation, as he is Kushaila, but has no real memory of the culture and language anymore. Instead he is just as caged as Amani is, forced to play a role after his entire family was murdered to set an example. However, she also can help him understand more about his people and reads the language for him as he cannot barely read Kushaila at all. My heart really reached out for him and I totally understood what drew Amani and him together. They had great chemistry and fit together very well. Furthermore, their relationship is built on so much respect, it was really nice to see that and to have no love triangle! I enjoyed all the scenes they had together and the end broke my heart.
The only thing I had issues with is the plot & pacing in the middle. That’s kind of what made me drop 1 star, because the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. But let’s start out with the good stuff. I loved the beginning and end of the story. Both were very fast paced and full of suspense and tension. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time and really felt with the characters. Especially the ending is perfect as it’s so bittersweet. A lot of things went wrong, but there is also hope. However, the middle didn’t convince me as much. It took me a while to know why exactly and I think it has to do with (1) how the pacing was a bit too slow in comparison to ending and beginning and (2) that the premise of the body double was a bit underused, causing lower stakes and conflict. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the focus on family, tradition and characters! I wasn’t bored or unengaged, so the slower pacing didn’t bother me, but it wasn’t ideal either. Especially how the premise was used didn’t live up to my expectations. Of course we see Amani in her role as the body double. But whole things were at stake for her, the tension and conflict weren’t as high as they could have been. The problem being that I didn’t really worry for Amani as much as I hoped to. It also felt like the plotline in the middle was a bit linear, without many downs. That was nice to read, but the conflict could have been higher at times. That’s the only thing I can say without delving into spoilers.
Okay let’s talk about what I mean a bit more in-depth
- Until the end when Maram was set to be assassinated and Amani went in her place, nothing ever happened to her. There was no attack on her life, so I never really feared for her.
- Likewise, I didn’t buy it that there was no threat at all at Amani’s life during all the events that she attended as Maram. It’s made very clear that Maram fears for her life, but I honestly didn’t get why after a while, as nothing remotely threatening happened.
- There is always a risk, but this potential for higher tension and stakes was underused. I would have found it more realistic, if the rebels had only tried to make an attempt on her life, so it turned out that Maram’s fears were justified. But, since we were always told about the risk but never really shown it, I couldn’t completely buy it. Therefore, this aspect disappointed me a bot.
- Furthermore, I wanted at least one person – except from the one who found out – to see some difference in Amani and suspect something was up. I felt like Amani was almost too perfect in her imitation, so there was no big conflict about someone discovering her. The stakes would have been higher if she had wavered more and maybe even failed once, with a huge conflict about disposing of the one who found out or something like that.
IN CONCLUSION: Mirage is a great Moroccan inspired sci-fi story, which talks about very important topics, such as oppression, family and culture. This is definitely a book that you don’t want to miss out on. It has a great heroine, a complex villain and a great swoon worthy romance. My only issues was with the plot pacing in the middle, but apart from that the story really gripped me. I can only highly recommend it!
Do you plan on reading Mirage? What are your favorite YA sci-fi books?