Ever since I heard about Mirage I knew I had to read it and that I would love it. And it’s safe to say it did not disappoint! I devoured this book in two evenings and I was up late into the night because I had to read just one more chapter. I am already dying in anticipation of book two.
So if you haven’t heard of Mirage then here is the synopsis from 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’ 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 a diverse sci-fi fantasy story which is inspired by Moroccan culture. I found this world so original and fresh and I loved the worldbuilding so much! It was so nice to the Moroccan heritage and culture incorporated into the story. The worldbuilding is so intricate and done so well. It was so nice to see a world which is original especially in a sci-fi setting, the cultures of both the Vathek (oppressors) and Kushaila (oppressed) and their power dynamics are so intriguing and well written.
The characters are also so well written and fleshed out. They are complex and interesting to read about and have great character development. Amani is smart and sassy but she learns to be diplomatic and manage tense political alliances. She is brave but also shows vulnerability and admits she is afraid. I loved that we are shown that she is afraid but still persists in her goal.
Maram is initially shown as cold, abrasive and arrogant but we soon learn that there is more than meets the eye. I loved how she develops and we get a deeper look at what she is truly like and we see that she has grown up in a difficult situation and she is more vulnerable than she allows to be seen.
Idris is my new book boyfriend! I adore him even though we don’t get to see a lot of him what we do see is a young man who despite having to live among those who murdered his family is still kind and compassionate. He is very diplomatic and smart and knows how to play the long. He is also fun and charming and shows a different side to him when he learns who Amani is.
I loved seeing the relationships develop between Amani and Idris and Amani and Maram. They were complex and realistic and I am looking forward to seeing more of them and how their relationships develop in the next book. The side characters who we see for short periods are also well written and are all interesting to read about.
I also loved the Arabic poetry incorporated into the story and that it was not only an important part of Amani’s and Idris’ culture but also important to the story. It also gave us a glimpse of how the Kushaila culture was before the Vathek came and destroyed most of it in the war.
One of the aspects of the story that I found really interesting was how prejudice against a group of people can lead to the oppression of them. But also that by actually learning about the culture and way of life can help to overcome the prejudice. This was something I saw as Amani’s and Maram’s relationship developed and they started to become friends.
The story itself was well rounded and had a full arc as well as setting up a larger plot to continue in the next book. I really liked this as normally we are left on a cliffhanger just as the plot starts to develop in the first book.
I highly recommend reading this book! It was wonderfully written and left me wanting more! It was also so wonderful to see diverse cultures and the Moroccan heritage, as it’s not something we usually see in books. I am really looking forward to continuing the story.