Mirage by Somaiya Daud
Series: Mirage 1
Release date: August 28th
Published by Flatiron Books
Top 3 Genres: Science fiction, Young Adult,
My rating: Set it on fire/If you have nothing else to read/you need to read it/Run and buy it.
Source: ARC provided by Raincoast Books
To buy the book : CA • US • FR • Bookdep
Add to: Goodreads
Guys!!! I’m so excited to enter my first blog tour organized by Raincoast books!! And even more, that it is for this gorgeous book coming out very soon: Mirage!
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.
A unique setting
Mirage is not for people who like to put books in a box: sci-fi? historical? magic? it has a bit of everything! In the beginning, I had a hard time imagining cinnamon or horses on a faraway planet in a far away solar system. But then, I thought of Firefly, this weird mix of sci-fi and western… and it was easier to accept this universe made of an Arabic way of life and space!
Honestly, for a lover of the Arabian nights and other similar tales, this aspect of the book was great: tea ceremony, outfits, architecture, it was all beautifully portrayed. The culture was detailed and made you dream to be there and see it all. And then, my new love for sci-fi made me also enjoy the futuristic part, the ships, and multi-planet kingdom. It was not the most present aspect of the book either, honesty, the Arabic vibe was way more present and gave this book a poetic atmosphere if you ask me 😉 I’m all for it! Even the romance (yes there is some romance in the book!) had this semblance with the tales of Orient, a bit tragic, and very beautiful!
A context that rings true
This book tells a story we know all too well because it happens on Earth too. The story of oppressed people trying to gain their freedom. The story of the invader trying to impose its way of living through violence and death. Eradicating all that was before. It happens in space but it did happen here too. No matter where humans are, the will to conquer seems to exist. This story reminds us of that too. It is a bit sad to think that we can’t avoid that, but after all, this book is also about not giving up on hope, and fighting for a better world. And that is just as important to remember.
Between rebellion and coronation…
The main aspect of this book is the will to survive to occupation by the Vathek: should you bend your back and accept to be dominated by people coming from another planet, simply to survive another day? Or should you rebel, risk everything, for a chance to win your freedom? This is the struggle of Amani, our main character. She enters the game, from farmer girl to body double of a princess, so that the real one can survive til her coronation day. From someone resigned to a hard life to someone with fire in her heart and hope in her soul. We see her grow and evolve through the book, deciding after obeying, loving after fearing. But always, a dreamer.
What about Maram?
Maram starts quite simply: she is the villain. The princess hated by all, cruel and brutal. Growing through the book into something else. We learn about her, her fears and flaws, and she becomes more human… more open to Amani too. Honestly, I am not quite sure how I feel about her, I would have liked more ground for how she evolves through the book, the change seemed too brutal, especially in the way she treats her body double. We fell also into the classic « she had a hard childhood- excuse », and this is too easy for me.
But Maram thinking and changing also leads to beautiful moments between the two girls, and a very interesting relationship developing. Plus, redemption is a very fragile thing…. and I think there is still a lot to be seen with Maram.
In a few words…
A lush and poetic story, the beginning of an epic Arabic-like tale (in space!) that we see brought to life through the pages. Even if the author is just starting and it can sometimes be seen, it is a very promising debut she is offering us!
See you for a cup!
PS: if you want, you can even read an extract here!