Series: Mirage #1
Published by Flatiron Books (8.28.2018)
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Format: ARC, 320 pages
Source: From Publisher
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.
While this one fell flat for me, I strongly believe that this is going to be a favorite for a lot of readers, and a hit fantasy of 2018!
The world was beautiful, but the places were really overwhelming for me to keep up with. There was no map (there will be in final copy – something that sucks about reading ARCs) so I had trouble sorting all the places out. I also didn’t understand the conflict between the different places because I was overwhelmed by all the them and couldn’t tell if they were cities, or countries, (planets??) etc. I wasn’t sure what places were part of other larger provinces (or maybe even other planets). I don’t necessarily think it’s a lack of world building on the author’s part – I just really like to look at a map, and in this one it’s important. I do have a complaint about the world building, though – the occupation. I would have liked to have more information about it, other than it being what they call the Vathek invasion. I think that could have gone a long way toward helping understand the world and places as well.
While there were fantasy and sci-fi elements, this wasn’t really a fantasy or a sci-fi. I loved the idea of the Dihya (their deity), the Tesleet (a mystical bird that is seen as a blessing from Dihya), and the droids (who were bodyguards for the royalty). Other than that, there wasn’t really anything fantasy or sci-fi about this one other than the setting. It’s kind of a blend consisting of sprinkle of high fantasy, a dash of sci-fi, and a heaping dose of romance. I loved the Arabian feel this one had; but at its core, this book is a romance.
Which brings me to what ruined it utterly for me. The romance. It moved WAY too fast – which could be partially because this book is only a little over 300 pages – but it was basically instalove, which I despise with the fire of a thousand suns. Amani and Idris only had two real interactions before they were kissing and suddenly making proclamations of love. Gag me with a spoon.
I was really enjoying this book in the first half. Like I mentioned above, this is an Arabian story, so I looooved the culture and the feel of the world. The prose was also beautiful. I was intrigued from the start, and I quite liked the idea of a girl getting stolen from her home and forced to play the body double of a Princess. The introduction of the romance was where I lost interest. After that I felt like all the exciting things I loved about it in the beginning disappeared in favor of the romance. It became a romance-driven story, and thus I became bored. The second half was a serious struggle for me, to the point that I almost DNFed it. Which is pretty bad, considering how short the story was.
I can’t say I really cared about the characters much. I didn’t care about Amani or Idris, or even Tala. I did, however find Princess Maram very interesting (which may make me a horrible person because she’s kind of the villain?) because she was a multi faceted character and it felt like she was the only one that had real depth. I found myself craving catharsis between Maram and Amani, and I loved the kind of sisterhood they shared! I wish that relationship had been a focal point instead of the horrible romance.
I’m not sure how I feel about the ending. I don’t know if I’ll continue this series, but I think it has potential so I may try to pick up book 2, who knows!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 3/5