Wednesday, June 27, 2018

MIRAGE (Mirage #1) by Somaiya Daud

This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This in no way shapes or forms my opinions of the novel. Thank you Somaiya and Flatiron Books for the opportunity.

AUTHOR: Somaiya Daud -- Twitter | Website
TO BE PUBLISHED: August 28, 2018 by Flatiron Books (MacMillan)
GENRE: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Sci-Fi
PAGES: 321
SOURCE: Author
Find it on Goodreads

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’ fiancĂ©, 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.

Mirage has been at the top of my must-read books since I ran across a snippet of it this past winter. It sounded totally unique and right up my alley. In April, I had the pleasure of going to a Veronica Roth signing (more about that in another post) and along with her came Somaiya Daud as part of the signing. They gave us the little booklets with five chapters or so in them to give you a preview, but to me, those things are always just the very worst tease. I got mine signed, but I really wanted to know where I could get an ARC.

During a contest, ten people won a copy, but I was unfortunately not one of them. But Somaiya and I had briefly connected during the signing and she liked my dress, so the next day I took a very anxiety-ridden risk and emailed her, hoping she'd remember me.

If you read my previous post, you know my cancer has gotten pretty bad and the way I'm getting through it is reading, constantly. And I NEEDED this book. Luckily for me, Somaiya was every bit as lovely as when I met her and she sent me an ARC.

This year, I've been on the search for books that remind me of nothing else I've read before. I've read a MILLION books that remind me of The Hunger Games series. I've read dozens of books that desperately want to emulate the Throne of Glass series, but are disappointing. I've wanted refreshing. Mirage is exactly that -- refreshing, exciting, unlike anything else I've read, and absolutely addictive.

Having this book on my list of must-read books in 2018 was no mistake. It was a smart move -- and that's what this book is: smart. And I confess, I could've been done two or three days ago, but I strung it out as long as I could because I didn't want it to end and to have to wait another yet. This book was gripping from the beginning all the way to the end.

Now here is what I love about this book the most -- and this is where is gets a bit spoilery, so if you don't want to be spoiled, stop here!  

From the first few chapters you really kind of detest Maram, who is the princess whose body doubled Amani has been stolen to be. But around one third of the way through the book, you start to feel differently, and those feeling continue to evolve throughout the book, to a point where Maram is no longer some one you hate, but someone you feel bad for and whose idiosyncrasies are more fascinating than fearsome. And at the end, I felt angry with her, but I still didn't hate her like I did at the beginning.

I also LOVE the romance between Idris and Amani. I have no idea how they could make it work, but they're definitely an OTP for me.

One major question I have is this: HOW is it that Amani is Maram's exact body double? I know that they say everyone has a doppelganger out there, but this is more than that. There is a piece of the story that we are missing here. Amani's Majority Night is interrupted with troops looking for a body double for Maram. How did they know where exactly to look and how did they know there was definitely a double to be found? These are the things I was still wondering at the end of the story.

I also loved the “full circle” element of the book. At the beginning, Amani tells us about the significance of the tesleet birds and their meaning and symbolism in their lives. At the beginning of the book, she is fascinated with a feather, from a tesleet bird. According to legend, they are a message or a sign from Dihya, their God. To be faced with an actual tesleet bird was to essentially be handed a fated mission that must not be given up. I loved that the first pages of book came around to join with the end.

I cannot wait for the next installment and even though it comes out at the end of the summer for purchase, I think it's the kind of book that could easily be the best book you read all summer, and you'll be thinking of it long into the fall.

Not review related: Somaiya was absolutely one of the most fun and interesting writers I've ever heard speak. Her depth of knowledge in literature and in other pop culture phenomena like Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is so impressive. She is incredibly kind and so much fun. She's one of those people that for spending a day with her, you'd absolutely come back smarter. Somaiya, it was an honor to meet you!

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