Mirage is an intriguing YA Sci Fi debut, that has a lot of important themes and a unique setting, but falls into predictability.
Rating: 3 Stars
Author: Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Synopsis: 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.
Mirage is an intriguing YA Sci-Fi debut, with a Moroccan inspired setting and strong themes of oppression, colonialism, feminism, and rebellion. While I thoroughly appreciated the setting and themes, I often felt like much of the plot was predictable and the many of the characters were not fleshed out enough for me to care for them. The book is a short, fast read and I often find that I don’t always get the development I need to come to care for the characters or for any of the stakes to feel real enough in the plot. I think the romance is the most predictable part of the story (though not the only one) and while it is not the main plot line, it still bothered me to no end every time it was focused on.
Mirage reads a lot like a fantasy novel because many tend to think of things like colonialism and oppression as unpleasantness from the past and fantasy novels are often based on past eras. But putting this story in the future, in space, is something I’ve never seen before and in that, this novel was like a breath of fresh air. We need stories with varied cultural inspirations set in the future.
While I enjoyed Mirage for the most part, I just constantly felt like something was lacking. I could never figure out exactly what it was, but I have a feeling it has to do with the fact that this was such a short book. And I understand that this is a debut and YA debut novels aren’t always given the pages needed to really flesh out the story. I am greatly looking forward to Court of Lions, the sequel to Mirage, because I’m hoping that Daud is given more space to develop this world and these characters, because we need them in the YA landscape.