August 22, 2018

Mirage by Somaiya Daud | Strength in Softness and Faith

By Somaiya Daud
Mirage #1
Published on August 28, 2018
Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi

This book was provided to me from Netgalley and The Fantastic Flying Book Club in exchange for an honest review. I swear on my bookshelf that this has not affected my opinion of the book.

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’ fiancĂ©, 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 interesting mix of genres and settings. Amani lives in a desolate future where invaders have hijacked her land, her culture, and her well-being. However, the story starts off with a celebration of hope and the core of her heritage that she fights to keep.

Then all of that is crushed when a droid figures out that she looks exactly like the vicious Vathek princess. 

The relationships between Amani and the people she met in her worst nightmare were my favorite part of the book. She had to struggle with her identity as a minority masquerading as the highest of the powerful majority. Let's break down why I loved the relationships that Amani faced with herself, her past, and her dangerous future.

1. Amani and Maram

Even though I hate Maram and her prissy attitude from the bottom of my heart, I have to admire her character. Daud took a character with character who shouldn't have any redeeming qualities and gave her a story--a good one at that. She spoke with ice in her voice and hatred in her heart, but she was more than just her viciousness. 

2. Amani and her family

Amani's family got very little actual page time, but their presence was strongly woven throughout the story. She remained devoted to them throughout everything she went through. Her focus on family further developed her image as a quiet, but strong heroine who just wanted peace.

3. Amani and her heritage

I loved watching Amani fight for her religion and her heritage. She was put in the most hostile environment to be herself, yet she flourished. I loved her devotion not only for her people's stories, but for their artistry and passion. She was forced into a new status as a quasi-princess in an empire who would not hesitate to squash her and everyone she loves but she kept her bearings. She showed the gentle strength of conviction and faith, which is a rarer form of heroism in YA.

Even though the relationships were mostly great, characters can't always carry an entire story. I loved the development of the clash of cultures, but the setting of space was largely overlooked. The story was set on different planets and moons, but it was left as more of an afterthought than a solid foundation for the world-building. I was intrigued by the fusion of fantasy with a setting in space, but I was not fully impressed with the results.

Maybe due to the slow development of the political intrigue or the focus on romance, the first two-thirds of the book were pretty tame with everything happening pretty much as I expected. I had to wait a while for the action to pick up and for new characters to be introduced to move along the plot. Ultimately, I would say that it was worth the wait but I would have liked more development sooner.

I also was not the biggest fan of the romance. Would I date Idris myself? Of course, yes. He was kind, patient, and (I would assume from the descriptions) devastatingly handsome. However he was a flat character in a cast with so much intrigue. Idris was precious, but that is pretty much all he was. I felt as if he should have had a bigger part in the story that did not solely include smiling fondly at Amani. 

Mirage is a story about heritage, soft strength, and fighting for the future that you deserve. The beautiful writing and the relationships were worth the slower development. 

About the Author

Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment. Mirage is her debut, and is due from Flatiron Books in 8/28/2018.


Ends 8/30/18

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Have you ever read a fantasy book set in space? This is a first for me, but I would love to read more if you have recommendations! Are you planning to read Mirage? 

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