Mirage by Somaiya Daud

The fifth and final book I read during my March Break Read-a-Thon was Mirage by Somaiya Daud, which was released in North America on August 28, 2018. Mirage promises to be a refreshing and unique coming-of-age story that fans of The Wrath and the Dawn and Children of Blood and Bone will love.

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. 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.

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I received Mirage by Somaiya Daud as a Christmas gift, but kept putting off reading it – so my self-imposed March Break Read-a-Thon was the perfect time to finally motivate myself to read this one! Mirage hooked me right from the start with a lush world and intriguing characters – which was a good things, because I was quickly overwhelmed by the sprawling setting and bored by the lack of direction.

As I previously stated, I was quickly hooked by this story, and its almost immediate dip into action and excitement – but then I quickly became bored when the story ended up going nowhere – except in circles, of course. This sudden shift from a fast-paced plot to a slow-pace with and even slower burning romance was jarring, and quite honestly, ended up leaving the story feeling somewhat dull and lack luster. Honestly, Mirage doesn’t really have a lot going on, so for readers who thrive on action-laced plots, this aspect will likely be a disappointment, as it was for me.

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And while I did find the characters intriguing, it was hard to care much about them as the plot stagnated more and more. Amani is a fierce heroine, who’s kidnapped and forced to work as the princess’s body double. She starts off scared and wary, but eventually turns into an empowered woman who wants to save her people and preserve her culture. Her counterpart, the Princess Maram, who is perhaps more intriguing, if only because she is a well-written morally grey character. She’s technically the villain, but she has an incredibly interesting backstory that will make readers want to understand her more. She’s mean and selfish, but for a reason; she’s not one of the villains who are bad just for the sake of having a villain to hate. Meanwhile, Idris, who is betrothed to Princess Maram, is the handsome love interest for both women in the forefront of this story. The romance between him and Amani was sweet and soft, and Idris’ backstory will enrapture the heart of readers, leaving them wishing Idris had a more central role in the story.

Overall, Mirage by Somaiya Daud fell quite short for me. While I was initially hooked by the lush world, whirlwind action, and intriguing characters, the story quickly fell short as the plot stagnated, making it difficult to motivate myself to keep reading or to care about the characters (2.5/5).

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