Mirage

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Aug 2018

Member Reviews

While I did not hate my time spent reading Mirage, I did feel that it was a gigantic let down and an average book at best. First of all, there is no science in this fiction. It takes place on a random moon somewhere in outer space, and that’s all we get to learn about it. You want to know more about this moon? Too bad, the world building is non-existent.

Another huge issue that ties into the lack of world building is that the pacing for this book is WAY off. Our main character is chosen to be a body double for the princess and her transformation is basically brushed over in a single paragraph. Where did the rest of the story go??? There is insanely fast insta-love and a succession of scenes that could have been more but are whittled down into a few sentences until they feel inconsequential.

I would be interested in seeing what this book could have been if it was 400 or 500 pages long. It had such promise, but unfortunately, it tried to accomplish too much in too few pages and that caused the story to fall very flat.
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I liked that this focused on the characters but I do wish it had dug into the world creation a bit more. Some of this may have simply been more court political maneuverings of which the book already succeeded in. The romance felt a little ungrounded at times but the potential friendship dynamics were interesting and provided excellent stakes.
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I was never able to get invested into this book. There was a lot of telling and not enough showing. I found the plot line to be rather bland. I would still like to try this author again someday, but sadly this book wasn’t for me.
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*SENT TO ME THROUGH NETGALLEY 

3.5/5

I loved this world. So much. I felt like the concept of this idea was well thought out and I cannot wait to see what will happen in the next book. The relationship between Amani and Idris breaks my heart and I wish it didn't have to end the way it did. The cover also does not match with what the story is and I think that's why I liked it more. The ending still has me broken though, just saying.
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*******4.25 Stars*******

This was a really fun young adult sci-fi fantasy novel. This book kept me engaged from the very beginning. The author did a fantastic job of world building and could easily picture the world and regime these characters lived in. 

I also loved each and every character in this story. I don't often say that but I felt each character and interaction was necessary to the movement of the story. Each character already came fully developed and it was fun to peel back the layers to see how they become who they are. 

Amani is stolen from her home as she looks like the princess Maram and will be used as a body double to protect Maram from those who wish to do her harm. I found Maram and Amani relationship the most fascinating. These two are bitter enemies and their relationship starts off as antagonistic and brutal. With Maram wielding an iron fist. But things begin to change as time passes and these two spend more time together. They develope a strained and shakey friendship. During this strange bonding you see Maram beyond her cruel sheld she wears and what you find is a girl who just wants to be loved and accepted. Maram has been raised to trust no one and fears everyone is out to get her and her only weapon is the brutality she imposes on others. 

But with any good political games, Amani's people want freedom and she agrees to help them, while also trying to convert the princess to her side. Amani is often naive in her thinking and believes she can have it all but betrayal (no matter how just or righteous) always has consequences and ones she may not survive. 

******Received an ARC from the Publisher via NetGalley****
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This was totally not the kind of book I was expecting to read. I'm saying this in both a good and a bad way. This book is dark, gritty and cruel. It's upsetting that I didn't really enjoy this book as much as I should. I tried to like and get into it but I just couldn't force myself but I'm so glad that I'm over it now.

To be in the ruler of a dark and evil government called the Vath is everyone's nightmare. Amani was already living in enough fear as it is but then was kidnapped by force. It always starts this way, the less oppressed by the one who has more. It is w sad world to live in, one I would really love not to be a part of.

As I have mentioned, this was not the book I was expecting to read when Amani was taken hostage against her will, it was actually because of her features that resemble the heir for the throne. But then they became closer, became friends and everything changes. It shows that the exterior means nothing when Maram's interior has light and a softness to it. That she isn't all that she seems to be.

This was a book more that highlights more on friendship and the length one would make for their family. Love has only a minuscule of the whole proportion because Amani ends up choosing her family and the rebellion instead of running away with Idris.

Now that I really look back to the entire premise of the plot, I realised that this is actually a great book but it's a shame that I wasn't all that into it. Still, I look forward to what the author had to offer next and see how the rebellion take charge of the story.
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This was a really good read. It was a little slow but in a good way, where it gave me proper time to fully immerse myself in the characters and their development. The world building is great and I cannot wait for the sequel.
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The world Somaiya Daud creates in Mirage is fascinating, but the words were so far removed from reality that I had a hard time remembering who was who and where was what.

The timeline was a little confusing as well. I know there is such thing as too much detail of the past, but this almost had too little. I often was unsure if things they were mentioning were recent events or happened decades ago.

I’m not always turned off by violence, but this was a bit much, right from the get go. Though the overall story was interesting and in the genre of books that I like, the details were distracting enough to pull me out of the story again and again.

I’m a bit of a sucker for a well written make out session and the author did a wonderful job with the romance. The author described their emotions and interactions to create several swoon worthy scenes, but I never found myself completely immersed in the world she created.
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This is an incredible debut with wonderful imagery, a carefully detailed plot, and complicated characters. I cannot wait to see what this author does next!
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I tried.... I wanted to love this book. I wanted to get into it. But alas I could not. I picked it up 3 times before I decided I just couldn’t get into it. The writing was good the story just didn’t hold my attention.
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Unfortunately the time has passed on reviewing this book for me. I am still interested in it, but not immediately. Sorry for any inconvenience.
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On the night of her coming of age celebration, Amani is kidnapped and taken to the royal palace in secret. It is there where she learns that her appearance is identical to the half-Vathek Princess Matham, unconfirmed heir to the throne who is hated by the people and requires a body double to pose as her and keep her safe. Forced into the role to protect herself and her loved ones, Amani finds herself learning more about the princess, her betrothed and palace life and slowly coming to understand how the power could shift when the princess takes the throne. But will the violence and lies that are part and parcel of royal life and revolution derail the future that Amani dreams is possible? I liked Mirage on the whole. The cultural details infused into this science fiction story were a welcome touch, and something I really enjoyed. I also liked the settings, and found the characters were promising (if a little underdeveloped for my taste). But what prevented me from really falling in love with this one was the way the tropes were tackled, as they were written in a way that didn’t personally appeal to me. That being said, despite my reservations, I’m still mildly curious about where Daud will take the story in the next novel. If you’re looking for a solidly written sci-fi YA read that’s easy to devour, Mirage would definitely be a good choice.
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I received a copy of this book for a fair and honest review. I read the description of this book and I wanted it so bad. I wanted to see her go on an adventure, but what does happened to her is a lot for one person to take on. Forced to be the body double for a princess who is hated by her people for she in the ruler of an invading race and she has taken the prince of the moon captive. Amani is going through a ceremony when she is taken away and she is forced to undergo training and that includes spending time with the princess and the captive prince. There is fear of assassination. Now all Amani wants to do is go home now that the glimmer of the palace life is starting to fade. It is a really good read. Looking forward to more in this series.
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I went in this book not quite knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised! I loved it!

I listened to most of this book as an Audiobook, and I highly recommend it. This is one of those books where I know I would have pronounced the names and places much different if I read them first. I really enjoyed hearing the book read with the pronunciation the author intended for the characters and places.

I have only recently started listening to audiobooks. This was only the 3rd or 4th one I've listened to, and I enjoyed it very much. I especially love that I can read while driving now, something you should never do without an audiobook.

This book is really well written! The author did an excellent job at world building and character development, and the plot was very unique.

Although this book is set on a different planet, much of the book was inspired by Moroccan culture. This was awesome! I love when YA fantasy books incorporate different cultures, even if they are set on other planets!

The only thing that irked me just a little about this book was how easily Amani seems to settle into her new life and doesn't seem to be taking her situation as seriously as she should be. She is supposed to be in danger throughout the whole book, and it seems like she forgets that quite a bit. This could be a combination of her personality and how young she is, but I still expected her at several points during the book to stop and consider how much danger she is in.

I still really enjoyed reading this book, though! I definitely recommend it!

The ending left me asking a whole bunch of questions, so I will definitely check out book #2 when it comes out!

Book # 2, Court of Lions, is listed on GoodReads. It says it will be released sometime this year but doesn't say when.
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"You are not defined by the men in your life, no matter how powerful."


Mirage was definitely not what I was expecting--but not in a bad way! I was looking forward to reading a high-stakes survival story with lots of action and rebellion (I was totally imagining a fantasy version of The Hunger Games), but it was more along the lines of The Wrath and the Dawn with its slower pacing and intense focus on the romance.

Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing (!!!). The slow paved the way for some fantastic, in-depth character development. Amani, our fierce heroine, is an indigenous woman who's kidnapped and forced to work as the princess's body double. She starts off scared and wary, but eventually turns into an empowered woman who wants to save her people and preserve her culture.

Then we have the actual princess, Maram, who is even more intriguing. She's technically the villain, but she has an incredibly interesting backstory that will make you want to understand her more. She's mean and selfish, but for a reason; she's not one of the villains who are bad just for the sake of having a villain to hate.

This book does also have a romance, although one that is very much unnecessary. It's between Amani and Idris, who is Maram's betrothed. It's very sweet and soft, but I personally hoped for a more exciting romance between Amani and Maram. Idris just seemed a little flat for me, and I couldn't bring myself to really care for his character, no matter how kind and charming he was.

Mirage doesn't really have a lot going on, so if you're an action-seeker like me, this aspect may disappoint you. BUT! This book wins at world-building! Daud's writing is so elegant and intricate, and it definitely makes for an amazing and luscious world. Of course, this also led me to be occasionally confused by the backstories and politics, but that just be my fish brain going haywire again.

In short, I'd recommend Mirage for people looking for a strong heroine who they can look up to, a villain with actual depth, seductive world-building, and a very feminist story. If you're okay with a slower book and not a lot of action, be sure to give this book a try!
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was absolutely blown away by this gorgeous cake-slice of a book. (Brownie slice? I don't even like cake.) The cover may lead you to think it's fantasy, but don't be fooled--this is a far-future science fiction adventure rife with politics, petulant princesses, and forbidden romance. It all starts with Amari, whose home planet has been long under the dominion of off-world conquerors. Their writing and religion is policed. Their towns are rife with robot guards. They are poor and beleaguered. And it all comes to a head when, the day she is to receive her coming-of-age tattoos, Amari's town is raided and she is captured by creepy robot guards and brought to the Vathek citadel. To become a body double for the hated princess Maram. From there, it really kicks off into a twisty thrill ride of intrigue, deception, and steamy slow burn romance.

Morocco - In Space! 

The first thing I love about the book is the politics. Instead of your usual space battles and laser blasters, this is a much more subtle sci-fi, where the frameworks of colonialism and occupation have been abstracted to a solar system scale. Somaiya has created a solar empire woven with its own elaborate history and culture--and much of what we get is from the conquered culture of Amari's homeland. There is food, poetry, religion, traditions. Even though Amari is ripped away from it pretty quickly, Somaiya weaves it into Amari's interactions with the Vathek people.

In a sci-fi landscape heavily dominated by Romanesque empires and made-up aliens, it was refreshing to see a non-Western take on intergalactic living. Much of the book focuses on Amari's understanding of the ruthlessness of the Vathek occupiers, and her growing understanding of how much dissent and deception lurks even within their own ranks. There are secrets, galas, exiled grandmas, and layers upon layers of political strife that kept up my interest. I only wish we'd gotten more of Amari's transformation, because it's basically time-warped off screen and it seems a little shocking that she could so perfectly be Maram after a month of training.

Romeo and Juliet Meets FaceOff (jk) 

The sci-fi is much lighter in this book compared to others, because it's the relationships that really shine. The first is Amari and Maram. Maram starts out as a ruthless brat with a chip on her shoulder, because half of her blood comes from Amari's people and she's often shunned by Vathek purists. Hence why everyone wants to kill her. Instead of keeping Maram as a cardboard adversary, Somaiya really delves into her motivations. We see the broken girl behind the armor. We see how Amari's kindness and persistence begin to break down Maram's walls, and how something almost sisterly grows between them. We also see how hard it is for Maram to let go of her narcissism and ruthlessness in a world where she needs claws.

Then there's Idris. Oh, Idris! He's a hot-as-hell, smooth talking prince betrothed to Maram. She likes him because he's actually nice to her. Amari likes him because he's, well, did I mention hot and smooth? Amari gives up her secret to him a little too quickly, but luckily he turns out to be no friend to the Vathek overlords. Their relationship is a slow one, building from a tenuous alliance into a lattice of brief glances, accidental touches, and mutual respect. And banter. Did I mention banter?

Dihya, Give Me More 

There are certainly hitches to the book. The beginning is choppy, and Amari gets a little too lucky in revealing herself to people who--surprise!--don't actually want her dead. However, Somaiya eases a lot of the rough patches with her writing. There's a lyricism about it without being flowery, and a sharpness to her dialogue and exposition that made me eager to turn page after page. It's surprisingly quick-moving, and by the time you get to the end, you're panting for the next installment. Amari, Maram, and Idris are all such complex, believable characters that, no matter what hangups there are in the plot, I was always 100% invested in their story. MIRAGE is an absolute gem in a world of cold, clinical sci-fi. Even readers who hesitate to enter into space stories should check it out.
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Rebels, resistance, and the struggle against colonialism - it felt like Mirage had it all. I picked up this widely anticipated debut expecting a fast-paced science fiction novel that posed important questions about culture and self-identity. That’s not quite what I got. 

Based on Moroccan history and culture, Mirage follows Amani, whose home planet Andala has been colonised by the Vath. She is kidnapped from her village and forced to serve the Imperial Princess Maram, and act as her body double. Confined to the palace, Amani forms bonds with Maram’s fiance, Idris, and discovers that she may not be as isolated as she previously thought. 

There are many aspects of the novel that were extremely well done. The relationships between the characters were complicated and intense, especially between Amani and Maram. It was fascinating to watch a semi-sisterhood develop, even though both women are aware of their families’ violent history. Amani’s ability to empathise with Maram and her distance from her culture was fascinating to read, and definitely one of the high points of the novel for me. 

I also think that Daud drew an extremely realistic portrait of living under colonial rule. Amani’s language and culture are stamped out, and the marks that are tattooed on her face to denote her family’s heritage are erased. The way she clings to ancient poetry, the last remnants of her family and culture, is very moving and I think it will resonate with many readers. 

However, the novel relied heavily on character development rather than plot. Although I greatly enjoyed the characters, I felt that the lack of plot made the pace much slower than it should have been. Although we are told that Amani’s life is in danger, it never feels as though she is in a high-stakes situation, even when she survives an attempt on her life. Even this scene felt slow and character-driven, and when it ended it was quite the anti-climax. 

I also felt that the emphasis on the romance between Idris and Amani was unnecessary. Idris had the potential to be an extremely interesting character - an Andalaan forced to marry the Imperial Princess to secure the Vath’s colonial rule. Unfortunately, I felt that he was under-developed and pushed into the love interest role. 

Overall, I feel like this is a good debut novel, although it does have its problems. I probably will read the sequel, Court of Lions, in the hopes that Daud improves with her next book. However, I don’t think my expectations will be as high. 

CW: abuse, violence, trauma, torture
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Book 8 of 2019: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Mirage by Somaiya Daud is absolutely captivating. This science fiction YA is about Amani who dreams of the past and poetry while living on a planet occupied by the Vatheks. She is whisked away at her coming of age ceremony and forced into serving as body double for the cruel reclusive princess Maram. Resistance, intrigue and romance result. So, all my favorite things to read about. 

The audiobook is narrated by Rasha Zamamiri who does her job to perfection. I would absolutely say if you have the opportunity listen to the audiobook. irage by Somaiya Daud is absolutely captivating. This science fiction YA is about Amani who dreams of the past and poetry while living on a planet occupied by the Vatheks. She is whisked away at her coming of age ceremony and forced into serving as body double for the cruel reclusive princess Maram. Resistance, intrigue and romance result. So, all my favorite things to read about. 

The audiobook is narrated by Rasha Zamamiri who does her job to perfection. I would absolutely say if you have the opportunity listen to the audiobook.
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I'm a huge fan of YA fantasy and was excited to read this debut. But the pacing was slow and the romance underdeveloped. I didn't finish this book so I won't be rating it on Goodreads or Amazon.
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Okay. To preface: this is not a bad book. This is a good book. In some ways, in fact, it's great. I just want to stress this because my review might seem overly critical, but most of my reasons are really all about me and my tastes, which seem to be changing. 

So what is this book about? Well, the Goodreads summary does a pretty good job explaining about 50% of the book (which is part of the problem, but I'll get to it later). So, Amani is Princess Maram's body double, she predictably falls in instalove with the Maram's fiance, and she predictably decides to spy for the rebellion. That's pretty much it (also part of the problem, but again, later).

Right, so, first, let me talk about what I loved. First, the North African culture. Y'all. Y'ALL. I have NEVER seen North African culture in a YA fantasy. I mean, yes, I'm Egyptian and not Moroccan and those two things are waaaaay more different than most people think but I still recognized a lot of stuff and it just filled me with joy to be reading about food and words and customs I was familiar with. I loved how the author played around with fantasy and reality and how she adapted Morocco's Amazigh culture. Like. You barely see vague Arab/Middle Eastern culture represented, let alone specific Amazigh things like their tradition of tattooing their faces. Loved that. And I loved how the author talked about colonialism and its effects. 

Second, the writing. The writing is what initially drew me in. See, I hadn't planned on reading this book now at all. But I saw someone on here review it and I thought I'd just see how it starts and I was hooked by the writing, which was really good. It's very descriptive without overdoing anything and it's just the right amount of formal without being stilted. Third, I loved the relationship between Maram and Amani. I thought it was a really fascinating dynamic they had going on especially as they started to become friends. Whenever they had a scene together I was hooked.

Okay, now for the not so great. 

First, this was boring. Like, really boring. Remember how I said the summary explains 50% of the book? Yeah. It's really slow. Barely anything actually happens in this book. Amani only meets the rebels at the 51% mark. It's just endless stretches of nothing happening, then Maram attending a party or something as Maram, and then nothing again. It was boring, and it was repetitive. By the 30% mark I was struggling to get through it. I just wasn't interested. Part of that is because the characters weren't that interesting. Maram is fascinating - I kind of wish we'd had the story from her perspective, actually. Amani is fine, but I didn't get strong vibes off her, and Idris is suuuuuuuper dull. He serves no purpose. He may as well not have existed.

Which brings me to my second point. The instalove. So, I don't actually hate romance. It might seem like I do, but I don't. I've been known to swoon over well-done romances. But this felt very much like an Inexplicable Heterosexual Romance shoehorned into an otherwise decent story for no reason at all. The first time Amani meets Idris she finds him handsome and charming, the second time they're together they make out, and the third time they're declaring their love for one another? It was dramatic and boring and predictable and it did not need to be there. Every scene these two had together was boring. Amani's interactions with literally every other character were so much more interesting. 

Third, okay, I'm just gonna say it: the setting of this book is fucking weird. I don't get it. So, they're in space...there's galaxies and spaceships and androids, somehow...but they still live like it's Olden Times? What? I feel like the author was going for a Firefly-type vibe here, but it didn't work for me at all. I would start to find my groove somewhere and then the story would drove a word like "droid" or "holoreel" and it would take me right back out. It was so jarring and inconsistent. It felt like the technology that was included was just included to make certain things more convenient for the plot. I don't understand why this couldn't have just been set in Olden Times and left at that. I would have liked it way more. This way it just feels gimmicky, because the whole space/galaxy thing doesn't really come in except when the plot needs a particular technology. It's not even clear how long these people have lived here or what existed before these planets or where exactly they came from.

Finally, and here's where this review gets a lot more personal, I'm just so over this type of YA fantasy plot. I keep seeing it recycled over and over again. Country is conquered/a people are discriminated against, MC joins rebels and fights conquerors. It's been done to death. And, I mean, that's not this book's fault. Not at all. Like I said, I do think it's a good book, and, like Laura Sebastian's Ash Princess, it does the job it's meant to do, and I know there will be a lot of people who will love it. I totally get that. I might have loved it too, if I had read it in, say, 2015. But at this point, I've read this plot SO many times, with little to no new variations, that I'm just tired of it, and all the inevitable tropes that come along with it. Again, not the book's fault, and I highly recommend this to people who still do love this sort of YA fantasy, but at this point I think it's just not for me.
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