Review of Mirage by Somaiya Daud

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 and receiving a sign that one day, she, too, will have adventures, and travel beyond her isolated moon.But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects. She is kidnapped by the government and taken in secret to the royal palace. There, 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 to appear in public, 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, and she soon realises that one wrong move could lead to her death..

Mirage, was one of those really over hyped books that seemed to appear everywhere overnight so it was with a little trepidation that I started.  It’s actually okay, I found it a fairly enjoyable if not fairly predictable read, which does thankfully improve as the story moves forward. I have to admit it was a struggle to get to the point where I felt invested in the characters but invested I became and I found myself quite emotional about the situation in the closing stages.

The stand out character for me was Maram, she had the most growth and was actually delightfully spiteful which was a nice juxtapose to the other characters.  She has built up many walls and I loved the glimpses we got behind it. The montage style writing where Amani must undertake her transformation is great and I loved the heart in mouth moment when we find out if she can actually pull it off.

It’s pretty full of tropes though and is heavy on the romantic storyline which I feel represented a missed opportunity for the book, it was reliant on character development over world building and had just a few more pages been given over to this I would have found it more enjoyable.  I never really got to a point where I felt there was a legitimate need for Maram to have a body double or did I get the feeling that were were in a futuristic setting with events taking place across worlds.  For a book that has been flagged under sci-fi, I found this a bit disappointing.

I think that ultimately Mirage was a book which wasn’t written for me. Where a lot of YA fantasy crosses over and can find a home with maturer YA readers, I felt that this is a book which would be most enjoyed by a teen audience. Whilst overall it was enjoyable it didn’t take my breath away.


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