In a world 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 home. 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.
I received Mirage in exchange for an honest review through NetGalley. This book is described as being a Science Fiction story inspired by the author's Moroccan upbringing, which intrigued me. I was excited to see what kind of unique setting the author, Somaiya Daud, came up with and what kind of plot she'd come up with to go along.
The setting of the book definitely did not disappoint. The hybrid between the completely foreign world of Aliana and the culture of Morocco worked beautifully together. It also creates some complicated dynamics between races in the story, that are mirror images to the real world. Amani's race has been subjugated by the Vathek race but she and her family keep their culture alive through celebrating traditions, that create a dynamic and unique backdrop to the story.
The characters of the book are complex and compelling. Amani goes through a lot of change and development through the book, making her an excellent main character, but even Maram, who appears to be the antagonist at the start of the story, changes and becomes a fully three-dimensions character as the story progresses. Every character proves to be more than the reader originally thought, and none of them are purely good or evil, making them incredibly memorable and interesting.
Mirage was a fast and fun read, thanks for a fast-paced plot. Tensions are high for Amani from the beginning and every event in the story, ramps up the tension, intrigue and excitement. While I wouldn't consider there to be any real "twists" as the plot unfolds gradually, I was happy with the direction the story took and it surpassed my expectations. This was a book that I quite literally could not put down and was left thinking about for days finishing the last chapter.
The Moroccan-inspired Science Fiction novel, Mirage, has a beautiful setting, complex characters and intriguing plot line. If you love Star Wars and The Children of Blood and Bone, you'll love the dynamic and intricacies of the world the author created as well as the exciting new technology. Somaiya Daud's debut novel is well worth the read!