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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.

320 pages, Hardcover

First published August 28, 2018

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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.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,924 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
March 14, 2021
I am, and I cannot stress this enough, a mess over this book.

I love this book for many reasons: least of which that lately I’ve been full of the restless, dissatisfied energy that seemed to move into my heart after finishing a book, I’ve been chasing that particular high you only get from certain rare stories – the ones that you can sink into and drown, the ones that resonate with you on a strange personal level, like a reminder of something that was once very dear to you but has somehow been forgotten; and chief of which is the ragged awe of reading something so familiar, a story that feels like home, and that aching feeling in your chest at the knowledge that your culture has found its way into the YA fare and has been brought to an audience who likely would not have known about it otherwise.

So, what's this book about?

Mirage is set in a Moroccan proxy world called Cadiz, a moon of the planet Andala which has been conquered by the Vath, a ruthless empire from another planet intent on erasing the customs and traditions of the Cadiz people. During her community’s traditional coming of age ceremony, 18-year-old Amani is violently stolen from her family in an impoverished village on Cadiz, and held captive in the imperial palace, Ziyaana, where she is shocked to find that she bears a striking resemblance to the half-Vathek princess, Maram vak Mathis, who is known to be as cruel and unforgiven as her Vathek father but with the face of her Kushaila mother. In response to increased rebel attacks, Amani is forced to train to become the princess’s body double.

“I had lost a battle I’d never been equipped to fight. I’d been stripped of all things that were meant to be mine, that Dihya had blessed me with, and now – how could I keep myself, preserve myself, if I had none of myself left?
If all I had was Maram?”

Mirage is drawn from recent Moroccan history, especially a historical episode known as The Years of Lead – the period in Morocco between the 1960s and 1980s under the reign of Hassan II that was notable for violent crackdowns against dissent that ranged from poetic expression to the insistence on the recognition of Morocco’s many indigenous groups. The book also addresses the enduring wounds of colonialism, appropriation, injustice, suppression and erasure along with orientalist tropes. And Amani’s experiences of prejudice and structural inequalities draw vivid parallels with our world, without allowing a didactic message to dominate.

But what is most fascinating about this book is the way the author taps into a rich imaginative lineage as she weaves Northwest African mythology into a world that resonates with our own. Andalan is truly a treat of a fantasy world, fully sketched out and masterly thought-out, with a thematically rich mythology and a gorgeous imagery. Many elements of the story are modeled on concepts specific to the Amazigh – an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa that predates the Arabs of Morocco but that’s been historically left out of the political process and severely marginalized, like the warrior queen Dihya (also known as Kahena) who still serves as a symbol of empowerment and feminism and anti-colonialism.

With a propulsive pacing and a compelling narrative, the story felt like a gaping chasm of possibilities, breathless and wondrous. There was a sense of magic, of possibility and of anxious danger as Amani enters a world that is as alluring as it is treacherous,  as she learns to navigate the complexities of court and the machinations of politics, as her days as a prisoner in the imperial palace become increasingly bleak and she finds solace in poetry. Throughout her journey, Amani slowly develops the resilience needed to fight back. I love how she starts out as someone who is furious at the injustices being committed against her indigenous community but feels as if she is unable of doing anything about it, that she is too small for the skin she wanted to carry. But by the end of the novel, she becomes a person who can be a rebel, a person who not only has found the strength and resilience to endure – but to act.

“The crown of Dhiya has been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken. But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way home.”

I also loved how the rest of the characters have been humanized by giving them the room to be fully fleshed and multidimensional instead of dimming the full spectrum of their personality. The reluctant friendship that emerges between Amani and Maram, the princess, is the rose compass of the book, as Amani finds out that Maram is a forgery. The half-Vathek, half-Kushaila princess has lived her life being too foreign for her conquered people, too foreign for her conquering empire, never enough for both. Her cruelty is merely her last attempt at hardening her heart into armor and chiseling herself into a harder but ultimately, a less truer version of herself.

The romance between Amani and Maram’s fiancé, Idris, is definitely trope-based and kind of insta-lovey which would have otherwise made the cynic I am at heart cringe inwardly. But honestly? I loved how it wasn’t the crux of the book. Amani, as a strong female character with a strong, compelling narrative is a teen navigating love, intimacy, and affection without being denied depth of character.

And all of it makes it so exciting to remember that this is just the first book of a duology. We’ll get to see the author develop her mythological system and work out the first-book kinks over the course of this series. There’s definitely a lot to look forward to.

“Happiness is rebellion.”

Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
August 23, 2018
“you are not defined by the men in your life, no matter how powerful. You lived before them and you shall live after them. You can’t let them determine your path.”

3 1/2 stars. Now THIS is the feminist YA fantasy of 2018, not Heart of Thorns. It's imperfect, yes, falling into a number of debut author traps, but it's a slow-burning, diverse fantasy with a rich, Moroccan-inspired setting.

Somewhat surprisingly, Mirage is a character-driven fantasy. Most YA fantasy I read is driven by mindless action and romance, but Daud crafts fascinating relationship dynamics between her female characters. Amani's romance with Idris was unexciting to me, but that's okay because it was totally eclipsed by the far more interesting growing relationship between Amani and Maram (I was kinda hoping the romance would be between them, to be honest).

In this world - a vaguely sci-fi setting that reads like a fantasy (not unlike Meyer's Lunar Chronicles) - Amani is kidnapped from her poor village on the moon, Cadiz, and taken to the royal palace, the Ziyaana, on the planet of Andala. There she finds she is the body double of the cruel princess Maram and must pose as the princess and learn to imitate her at societal events.

The book looks at themes of colonialism and the erasure of native cultures. Andala has been invaded and occupied by the Vathek Empire-- which cannot coincidentally share the name of Beckford's orientalist Vathek. Away from the prying eyes of the Vathek elite, Amani and Idris celebrate Kushaila poetry and bond over their stories of the occupation.

But what I enjoyed most was how Daud develops Maram into such a complex and interesting character. I love "villains" who are more than simply bad. I dislike so much that she does but I care about her, too. Also interesting is Amani's navigation through the political and social world she finds herself in, and how easily she soon finds it to become Maram, even seduced by the power she holds.

As I said, it's not perfect. The sci-fi elements are perfunctory in a novel that otherwise seems to be a straight-up fantasy book. The addition of droids adds nothing of interest, which is disappointing. There is also the standard "character made to recite world history for no good reason" that happens so often in YA fantasy. There has to be a better way to integrate this info.

It's a slower book than the average YA fantasy, focusing on conversations and exploring relationships. Amani must juggle allies and decide who, if anyone, she can trust. And, you know, it was actually really refreshing-- to have both a unique setting and a tale that focuses on character interactions and court politics. I'll be reading the sequel.

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Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
September 12, 2020
Somaiya Daud didn’t have to come for us like this..... she’s like “here take this amazing multidimensional narrative about colonization and agency and internalized hatred for one’s culture, driven by a fantastic lady lead and her complex relationship with a fantastic lady antivillain, featuring fantastic setting descriptions and a really good romance, and also I write like a Pulitzer Prize winner and this is my debut” and im just. out here eating a bag of chips

I know I just gave you a really long recommendation for this book, but seriously - let’s talk about this book.

Amani lives on a planet that has been conquered by the white Vathek, who have attempted to homogenize her homeland into something resembling their world - and when they can’t, brutally repressed those they can’t change. And here is where Mirage does something quite brilliant. Instead of simply focusing on Amani’s narrative, her kidnapping, and villainizing those around her, this book chooses to focus on how the Vath rule has fucked over everyone around her.

Imperial prince Idris has grown up without his language, Kushaila, being taught to forget and to push himself into a narrative he will never be accepted within. And Imperial princess Maram, both Vathek and Kushaila, has attempted to mold herself into exactly what her cruel father wants in an attempt to gain his acceptance. For this, she is hated by her own people, trapped in a narrative that is not her own.

And meanwhile, Amani is trapped in a situation where she is forced to play-act and do whatever she is told. But she never stops fighting to win back her own agency in a world that is desperate for her to have none.

The point here is that I am absolutely totally in love with the meta-narrative here about colonization.

I am not Moroccan and don’t have the specific cultural knowledge of how this book plays into the history of Morocco, but I would like you all to read this amazing explanation of how this book mirrors actual history by my best friend Chaima. And the setting really truly does take you there.

The relationship between Amani and Maram is one of the best dynamics of the book. I feel like we’re often very low on amazing female antiheroines and especially antivillains [basically, a villain who is redeemed / doesn’t always take up that role within the narrative] and it was so great to see that dynamic here.

And Amani has so much agency. Seriously, in a book that is about Amani’s loss of agency, it really amazed me how much space she is allowed to take up within the narrative. I love that she rebels. I love that she doesn’t lie down for Maram, even when she realizes she really does pity her. I love that she is aware of her feelings for Idris and yet careful and realistic about how she deals with them. She is such a sensible, well-written, well-developed lead, and I love her.

Listen, in general, this book is one of the most feminist things I have ever read. It’s essentially about an indigenous girl learning to rebel against oppression, and about her friendship with a fabulous biracial lady antivillain. I was in heaven.

And this might go without saying, but the writing and world… is gorgeous. It’s just so sensuous, and the setting is amazing, and I was so in the book. Lovely.

There are other elements within the book, like the family dynamic and the romance, that intrigued me as well, and I’m excited to see where they go in the future. And while the romance almost felt like it should have annoyed me, Amani is such a fantastic lead and Idris is so sympathetic that I wasn’t at all bothered.

This would be great for fans of sensuous, gorgeous, and theme-focused fantasy-adjacent space-opera. I have a good feeling this is going to be one of the best YA scifi duologies of our current time and I am so here for it.

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⭐Look out for my review of book two! (Which also apparently is going to be sapphic, I found this out today August 4th 2020 and I am now vibrating rapidly)
Profile Image for Sabaa Tahir.
Author 28 books31.7k followers
February 6, 2018
I have been waiting for this book and I didn't even know it. Smart, fast-paced, sexy, heartbreaking, with spectacular worldbuilding. The cultural details, from names to clothes to physical descriptions to poetry are so painstakingly and carefully done. It's a sci-fi that feels like a fantasy, which tbh is my favorite genre combo. You will be hearing me yell about this book all year. Add it to your TBRs, try to get your hands on an ARC. It is absolutely fantastic.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,167 reviews98.2k followers
October 10, 2018

ARC provided by Flatiron in exchange for an honest review.

You all should check out this amazing ownvoices review from Em! 💜

“On a small moon orbiting a large planet, in a small farmhouse in a small village, there was a box, and in this box was a feather.”

Mirage is a magical, wonderful, important, gift to the YA SFF world. From characters I fell in love with, to the messages about the importance of your culture and your family, to the most lyrical and beautiful writing. I loved this story with my whole heart, and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to fall in love with it.

This story is an ownvoices Moroccan inspired story about a young girl named Amani, who has known nothing but oppression on the moon that she and her family live on. She and her family are farmers, trying to live the best life possible, even with the constant heartbreak surrounding them.

“You learned a different sort of fear when you grew up in a village like mine. Fear of hunger. Fear of Imperial droids. Fear of the low hum that came with Imperial probes. But that fear taught you endurance—you could let its unwavering presence wear you down, or you could learn to stand up despite it.”

In this galaxy, the Vathek rule, and are slowly trying to erase other cultures, religions, and beliefs around them. While also trying to do any and everything to ensure there is no uprising or rebellion. But the rebels have been planning, and calculating, and waiting, and will do anything to make sure that the Vath do not continue to oppress and rise.

Amani has finally turned eighteen, which means she gets to finally celebrate her coming of age with others in her village. She has been looking forward to this day, and the blessing that will be bestowed upon her, for her entire life. And Amani is able to get her daan, a tattoo that means everything to her; her family, her faith, her inheritance. But the celebration gets crashed and quickly comes to a terrible end.

“I’d dreamed forever of leaving Cadiz, of visiting other star systems in our galaxy. But I’d never thought I would be taken against my will. I was dragged through the building, pulled onto a ship, silent and numb, then finally deposited in a holding cell.”

Amani gets kidnapped by imperial droids and flown to the royal empire. Upon arrival, she soon realized the reason she was taken; she is nearly identical to the Princess Maram, the heir to the throne, a girl who is cruel, and is wicked, and is disliked by both sides of her people, because she is half of the other. Maram’s father conquered Andala, and violated galactic law, so the only way he could keep the planet was to marry and have a child, so Maram was born. And Maram has a half-sister that very much does not think that Maram should rule, and she might be willing to do anything to make sure of it.

Maram is in fear for her life, so she rationalizes abducting Amani and forcing her to make her public appearances, while promising her death if she fails to be convincing. Amani is thrown into a world that she has never known, while being constantly reminded of the family, culture, and traditions she had to leave behind.

Maram’s father also murdered most of the families that lead the resistance against him conquering their planet, even though they did surrender. A boy named Idris, was spared from the Purge, as a reminder what would happen if people tried to oppose this new ruler. But he was also promised to be married to Maram once she comes of age, so she will forever be tied to the planet her father bloodily conquered.

Trigger warnings and content warnings for kidnapping, physical abuse quite frequently and heartbreakingly, war themes, death, murder, forced body alterations, talk and depiction of sever grief and trauma.

“He a prince and I a slave in all but name. There was no happy ending to this story, no way for the two of us to make one.”

And Amani is forced to play so many roles, while she convincingly has to pretend to be a princess whose father has taken so much from so many. And Amani is therefore thrown into a world of politics, betrayals, secrets, and even love.

This book beautifully illustrates that we are not the actions of our parents and the terrible things that humans are capable of doing. We are only our actions, and we are only held accountable for our actions, and for the actions we choose to repent for.

“We are not responsible for what cruel masters enact in our name.”

This book perfectly talks about family, culture, religion, traditions, and the things we are willing to do for them and in the name of them. Honor and believing in something are one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, forces in any galaxy. And standing up for your convictions is sometimes the only thing we have in this world. Never, ever, stop believing.

“When Dihya wanted to give you a sign He slipped the feather into your hand. When He wanted to command you to a calling, to take action, He sent the bird itself.”

The book amazingly showcases how important friendships can be, and how loneliness can take many forms. Everyone deals with depression, grief, and trauma differently. And sometimes an unexpected friendship can be the thing that makes you feel even a little bit better. Kindness truly is sometimes the best thing that we can give to another living soul.

Overall, Somaiya Daud’s debut SFF novel blew me away. I loved this with my entire heart and soul. This book is beautiful, this book is powerful, and this book is completely captivating. I never wanted to put this down, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Don’t sleep on this book, friends. Preorder this before it’s August 28th release!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication

Buddy read with Julie from Pages and Pens, Lilly at Lair of Books, Jules at JA Ironside, Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills, & Chelsea at Chelsea Palmer! ❤

This was in the September 2018 OwlCrate box!
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews112k followers
October 5, 2020
I really appreciate the infusion of Moroccan culture, familial values, and spoken poetry in a story that combines both history, fantasy, and sci-fi together. Listening to the author’s interview at the end of the audiobook was my favorite part because she put so much care and thought into researching for this story and telling it in an authentic way. How certain people are ruled and how specific cultural expressions are outlawed are strongly influenced by her own studies. I am rating this 3 stars based on my own personal enjoyment, since I couldn’t find myself attached to the characters, but this has been the case for me and the YA fantasy genre in general, so take that with a grain of salt. If you are looking for more sci-fi elements in your YA fantasy books, as well as world building influenced by non-European cultures, check this book out.
Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,130 followers
November 11, 2019
Science fiction can be hit and miss for me, so I don’t request ARCs from the genre terribly often, but when I heard the synopsis on this one—and the fact that it has own-voice Moroccan rep, which I’d never seen in a story before—I knew it was one I couldn’t afford to miss out on, and for good reason. I don’t say this lightly in my advance reviews, but honestly, I believe Mirage is going to be one of the best, and most important, releases of 2018.

The crown of Dihya had been stripped from me, my face changed, my body broken. But I was not a slave and I was not a spare. I was my mother’s daughter, and I would survive and endure. I would find my way back home.

First, let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way: the writing in this book is fantastic. Especially with this being Somaiya Daud’s first novel, it is evident from page one that the woman was born to weave stories. I read this in a scheduled buddy read where we split it into sections, and at the end of every single day’s reading, it was a literal struggle to keep myself from continuing because I couldn’t get enough of this world, these characters, and the suspense of the unfolding plot.

Endurance was strength, to be sure, but even a rock wore away to nothing if asked to endure enough rain.

It’s not just a beautiful story, but a haunting one, as Amani’s people have been steadily erased by their Vathek conquerors; more and more of their cultural expressions are becoming outlawed, and nearly all of their political figures have been de-throned to make place for the Vathek king and his family. In YA releases, I think we frequently see these “brutal” kings that don’t actually do much of anything brutal, but that’s not the case—Somaiya Daud goes there, and the Vathek people are absolutely awful, murdering innocent citizens left and right just to prove a point.

The blood never dies. The blood never forgets.

Maram, the half-Vathek princess who Amani is taken to become a body double for, is no exception, but she’s also young and mother-less, with a father who resents her very existence. I love the portrayal of her character as this ambiguous villain, who we’re never quite certain what to make of—is she as vicious as she seems, or is she misguided and looking for her father’s approval? It doesn’t excuse her actions, but watching her develop into this incredible, complex character was a brilliant experience.

And this, poetry like this, was all we had to preserve our stories, our music, our history.

There’s also a surprising amount of love shining through the bleakness of Amani’s circumstances—not only for the man she is pretending to be betrothed to, Maram’s fiancé, Idris—but also for the forbidden poems and stories she clutches in her heart to remember not only the ways of her people, but also the beliefs of her religion. The representation of her faith was beautiful and empowering, and I never tired of the stories-within-a-story of her deity, Dihya, and the emboldened women of the past that Amani looks up to.

“You are not defined by the men in your life, no matter how powerful. You lived before them and you shall live after them.”

Altogether, Mirage is such a gorgeous tale of faith, family, love, loss, betrayal, and endurance. Amani and her loved ones are so inspirational and strong, and each of the primary players in this game are complex and evocative in their own ways. I was hooked from cover to cover, and know that it’s going to be a long, cold wait until the sequel, because I positively must know what happens next. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any fans of YA sci-fi and/or fantasy—and would like to add that the science fiction elements are soft enough that even readers who don’t reach for sci-fi would be able to thoroughly enjoy this book.

Content warnings for cultural erasure, physical abuse, imprisonment

All quotes come from an advance copy and may not match the final release. Thank you so much to Flatiron for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Buddy read with Danielle, Kelly, and Kaleena! ♥♥♥
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,328 followers
August 31, 2018
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

Actual rating: 3.25 stars

“Even Your Happiness is rebellion.”

🌟 I don’t usually put synopsis but I felt it was important to understand this review and because I went into the story without even knowing what is it about!

🌟 I know this book will get a lot of good reviews and ratings which is cool and makes me happy for the author. The problem is that this is a debut novel and it felt like one!

🌟 I am not a big Sci-fi reader, I read a lot of fantasy and this was like a simpler version of Red rising (Where one character is basically trying to be another). I know they are quite different but I felt that most of the plot was easily predictable. And while I like the simplicity of this book, it was a bit lacking in the writing which also affected the characters.

🌟 There were a few beginner mistakes that should have been remedied by the editor. There was a lot of telling rather than showing. Since we are talking about Red rising which was much more complicated -and that may not have necessarily been a good thing- but character wise, it was exceedingly good! There was a slow build up and change of the MC from point A to Z. That happened in many long pages filled with conversations and hard situations and thought-provoking things. While here we were just told that and BAM, the character suddenly changed. After a few chapters and when you’re convinced that the 2 girls are the same now, another character shows you they are not. You can’t judge by yourself because once again, you are told not shown.

🌟 And the use of Arabic words was refreshing but why was it inconsistent: Why is the Prince called Amir while the princess is not Amira (The female equivalent of Amir), and why did she choose the word Shatranj while the board game they were playing is chess and nothing too fancy! And there are more examples…

🌟 And since I felt I read all of this before I was not thrilled and excited to know what happens next until the last chapters. I didn’t have problems with the world-building but I wish we had a bit more of it.

🌟 So, if you are new to the genre this book is not bad, but if you read a few books of this kind then you may want to skip this book. I ended up giving it 3.25 stars out of 5 stars.

🌟 Prescription: for fans of red rising and those new to the genre!
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,461 reviews9,616 followers
September 24, 2018
Okay, I got the same book in my Sept Fairyloot Box! This is happening too much, but I loved the book from this box and all the stuff in it. I will leave a link below the picture!


I actually enjoyed this book, at first I wasn't sure and then it reeled me in closer to the end of the book! I couldn't give up on a book set in space and stuff! =)


This was in my Sept Owlcrate box. I hope I love it as much as my friends have given it 5 stars! I must admit, I love the original copy better then the Owlcrate edition because I love purple =) I will try to add the link below the pic so you can see the goods.

My September Owlcrate Box. Follow the link if you want to see the goods =) http://melissa413readsalot.blogspot.com/2018/09/owlcrate-september-2018-subscription-box.html


Mel ♥
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
February 1, 2020
i got this book in owlcrates september box and im so happy because this wasnt even on my radar!

this book was relatively short and so it wasted no time with a slow build up. the story dived straight into the world building which, honestly, was a bit overwhelming. but eventually that overwhelming feeling developed into intrigue. and i felt like this story had a lot going for it - the cultural representation, the sci-fi feel within a fantasy centred story, and the characters.

i really appreciated amani. i thought she had such a strong resolve, not breaking to her new and unfortunate circumstances, but showing defiance in her own way. and even though she had this strength, she was also a poet, showing this romantic and tenderhearted side of her. i think thats so important - to show women that they can be soft and strong at the same time.

the reason this wasnt a 5 star read for me, even though i thought it was an entertaining story, was i just couldnt shake the feeling that i had read it before? it kind of felt like nearly every other YA fantasy novel - like, if you had told me ‘enter any other YA authors name here’ wrote this, i would believe you. and im not saying this is necessarily bad, because obviously i enjoyed the book, but it was definitely noticeable.

overall, i thought this was an impressive debut and a promising start to what i hope will be a wonderful and lush series!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Vibur (hiatus).
42 reviews230 followers
May 24, 2020
At its core, Mirage was a story about culture.

I empathised with Amani, who’d been torn from home and all that was familiar to become a foreigner. I empathised with Idris, who’d lost his heritage and history, who’d been forced to shed his culture and put on another. And I empathised with Maram, whose cruelty concealed a girl whose desire was to belong—and who, because of her biracial identity, was always an outsider and never 'authentic' enough for either.

The motif of language manifests itself throughout the story: through Amani's poetry, which she clung too in times of loneliness and despair; through the ceremonial practice of daan, tattoos that were inked onto skin as symbols of family and inheritance, as physical projections of hopes and dreams.
Because language is more than a tool for communication. Because more than that it's a bridge that connects and touches the feelings of people—a symbol of belonging to others and to yourself.
Being a second-generation daughter, I can appreciate how it feels to be caught between two cultures. And that was why Mirage's treatment of cultural identity resonated as deeply and personally as it did.
Amani, who was separated from her home. Idris, who was missing a part of himself. Maram, who was neither one nor the other.

Growing up in Australia, I was always seeking to distance myself from my roots, always forsaking my Chinese heritage—all because I wanted to be as ‘Australian’ as possible. But it wasn't later I realised that, in doing so, I was forsaking a part of myself—a part of myself that was rich, beautiful and undeniably inherent to me.

Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,543 followers
July 9, 2020
July 2020 edit: I don't know how this is possible but I loved this book even more the second time around.

CW: Death, colonialisation, cultural appropriation, cultural erasure, violence, physical abuse, threats, attempted murder.

I delayed writing this review until the last possible moment because I simply do not feel worthy of writing it, my words will never do this brilliant book justice. I wasn’t okay when I read it. And I’m still not okay now, two months later. Mirage broke me and put me back together in the most amazing away, it felt like something I have been missing, longing for all my life, that I have finally found. BUT I can’t delay it anymore, because I DO want to talk about it. I want people to know about it, read it and love it.

Somaiya Daud’s writing style is absolutely breathtaking, it’s majestic and lyrical. It fits the story and its emphasis on poetry like a glove. It’s so atmospheric that while reading I found myself mesmerized, completely sucked in and wraped up inside the story, the prose keeping me tightly in, flipping page after page until ungodly hours of the night. I just couldn’t get enough of it.

The worldbuilding in Mirage must be one of the best ones I’ve read in my life, it’s complex and infused with culture from start to finish, moroccan culture, and specifically amazighi culture (indigenous people of North Africa), my culture, and I cannot put into words how important that was to me and how emotional it made me. Every time I saw something, even little, that was directly drawn from it, the recognition felt like a warm hug, put a huge smile on my face and made my heart swell with joy and pride. Language, parties, food, traditions, instruments, EVERYTHING. All of those as well as Northwest African mythology were weaved into the narrative with elements unique to the story.

Read my full review on my blog: Word Wonders
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,793 followers
September 3, 2018

i really liked the pacing and the plot and the writing style and how the author seamlessly managed to incorporate her moroccan culture into sci-fi fiction, it's official y'all, shes an actual queen

i adored the art representing the cities/places they were traveling, honestly that was the highlight of the book

the characters were interesting, well developed, and i see so much more growth happening in the coming books im HYPED

maram's character in particular was developed flawlessly, she was multi-dimensional and had a depth to her that most villains dont even get a fraction of

the only drawback for me was the romance. i found it very insta-lovey and even though i dont necessarily detest insta-love like other tropes (cough cough love triangles) i felt like it was REALLY present in the book

aside from that, im legit excited to see the next books in this series and i want the author to have so much success 😭😭

also the arabic phrases and poetry and words just, my heart y'all its smiling rn :")

Buddy read with the evil princess herself 👸

im so ready for arab authors to give us the arab rep we deserve in fantasy and sci-fi 😭😭





also, im 95% here for the fact that the villain shares the same name as my bestie 😂😂 that's what you get maram
Profile Image for Samantha Shannon.
Author 26 books19.6k followers
February 26, 2023
Padmé and her decoys were my favourite part of the Star Wars prequels by a long shot. I always felt for Cordé, the handmaiden who dies on Coruscant, and wanted to know more about the choices that led her to sacrifice herself for Padmé. I wanted detail about the relationship between the ‘original’ and their double.

Mirage is the book I’ve been looking for without realising ever since. It offers all that detail and more. This is the tale of a young woman who finds herself risking life and limb for a person whose life is considered infinitely more valuable than hers – except instead of the loyalty Cordé seemed to have to Padmé, the relationship between Amani and Princess Maram begins with hatred and mistrust. Not only does Mirage have this great concept at its core, but the Morocco-inspired world Somaiya Daud builds is vivid and layered, threaded with glittering details. I loved Amani as a narrator, and Maram took me by surprise – Daud slowly humanises and complicates her as the story unfolds.

My favourite aspect of the book, however, was the role of language and poetry in rebellion and keeping hope alive. It's so well-done. The stories of Massinia and the Massinite poetry were seamlessly woven into the fabric of the world. Waiting with baited breath for the sequel.
Profile Image for Christian.
289 reviews326 followers
January 4, 2019
One of the most ridiculously tedious books I have ever read.

I did enjoy the overall setting and some of the characters were mildly interesting, but every. Single. Scene. Felt so insignificant and useless, and if there was a somewhat exciting one, it was quickly skipped over just to resume the talking about tiles. I don't think I've ever read a book that talked about tiles more than this one.

And the climax? Massively underwhelming. I would have dnf'd this countless times had I not held onto the hope that MAYBE the finale would change my mind, but it made me dislike everything even more. It seriously made me feel like I had just stared at a wall for the past three months.

So I'm glad that so many people seem to be enjoying this, and that the author got to extend the series from two to three books (which seems to be the current trend), but I don't think I'll remember any of it in about four days.
* * *

Time to beat the slump alongside the Light of my Reading Life Lily.
Profile Image for Beth.
700 reviews571 followers
October 9, 2018
5 Stars!

You do not kneel or bend, I told myself. To anyone. You continue.

You know when you need a book in your life, but you didn't realise what that was until you read it? Well for me, this was Mirage. I got an ARC from Netgalley and then two copies in subscription boxes, so I'm going to say it was a sign that I had to read it.

I'm quite surprised at myself, now I can be honest here and say Sci-Fi isn't usually for me, I'm normally very skeptical and it takes me a while to get into it. For some reason or another I was so engrossed with this. The setting, a sense of moons, stars and planets and then learning about different cultures throughout I was just here for it.

What I loved so much about this book is that there were a lot of underlying features in this that address some very real topics. We look at a lot here; culture, belief, religion, how others are treated in response to certain politics/ruling.

The basis of this is that Amani is kidnapped on an important night in her life and is taken to Princess Maram, she doesn't know why she is there, but all becomes apparent when she see's her for the first time, they are identical and because of that she will be her body double.


Amani is such a wonderful character, we see her go through some very troubling times but she holds on to her beliefs and is so strong. I loved her letting others know things they wouldn't know (In relation mainly to Idris and Maram to do with family), her love of poetry relating back to her family and just how quick she picks up things.

Maram is cold and cruel when we first meet her, it's difficult to go into things so I don't give anything away, but when we see her more vulnerable side it was EVERYTHING. I loved seeing the walls come down, and I also kind of felt sorry for her because there's a lot more to her than what I initially thought.

What I liked?
- The marking ceremony and how much it meant to Amani, it was so compelling to read and you could fully feel how proud it made her feel.
- As previously mentioned, not much a fan of Sci-Fi... but I kind of low key loved the use of Droids
- The descriptions and the writing it was just so beautiful. Everything was just so detailed and picturesque. One thing that I love when I read is that you can clearly imagine things in a certain way, and with this it felt as if you were there looking down on everything.
- Two different relationships, I loved the closeness of both of these, you could sense a bond coming and I'm very very scared for what's to come.
- Shatranji and the subtle uses of strategy while playing

What I didn't like?
- Lets leave this blank, because I liked itttt

"you are not defined by the men in your life, no matter how powerful. You lived before them and you shall live after them. You can’t let them determine your path.”

Overall, a very unexpected read that I enjoyed so much, I'd reccommend this to anyone and everyone, I can't wait for the next one... in need
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,294 reviews341 followers
April 15, 2018
About: Mirage is a young adult fantasy written by Somaiya Daud. It will be published on 8/28/18 by Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers, 320 pages. The genres are young adult, fantasy, and science fiction. This book is the author’s debut and is intended for readers ages 13 to 18.

My Experience: I started reading Mirage on 4/6/18 and finished it on 4/14/18. This book is an excellent read! I love that there’s a village on the moon. The body double is interesting to read, especially when Amani learn her subject mostly by observation. She doesn’t know the inside secrets of what Princess Maram revealed to her fiancé and friends. I like Idris and his cleverness. I like how Amani hold on to her language and culture like a precious stone and Idris regrets forgetting his mother’s tongue. “You can read?” “My mother taught me.” It’s a good reminder to me because as I live in a country I was not born in, I lose the feeling of importance to teach my son the language and culture I was born with because I want him to succeed where he born and lives.

This book is told in the first person point of view following Amani, 18, as she gets ready to attend the majority night celebration to celebrate her and fellow villagers’ coming of age by getting a face tattoo (daan). She lives on a poor forgotten moon in a small village with her parents and two older brothers in a tribe. The party was ambushed by droids and then Amani got taken away against her will leaving her family and all she’s known behind. She soon learns that she will become the body double for the wicked and cruelest Princess Maram, 17. Princess Maram’s life is in danger because she was born 50/50 between good & evil and since they both look alike, Amani is suited for the job. Amani will have to endure many harsh training lessons to eat, talk, and walk like Princess Maram. There are different cultures and languages in this book. Some languages are forbidden and some cultural practices are prohibited. The current King is ruthless and there are rebels that want to overthrow the King and Princess Maram. Amani is put to the test when she begins to journey to faraway places for an extended period of time as Princess Maram, but her challenge takes an unexpected turn where she least expected it.

A well written story, this book introduce an interesting plot and an unfamiliar language/culture to challenge readers. I have to admit that my pronunciation of names and locations in this book sounds as foreign to me as it looks. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to unravel how a village girl saves herself from her face when she no longer has her freedom. I like the forbidden love portion of the book as well as the importance of valuing your own history. I like that Amani know so much of everything even though she lives in a village far away from the city. I like the dispute Princess Maram struggles with, between good and evil and not knowing which direction to follow. The ending is a bit heart breaking as well as hopeful. I look forward to the sequel of this book. I highly recommend everyone to read this debut!

Pro: fast paced, page turner, adrenaline rush, outer space, cultural practices, forbidden love, espionage

Con: none

I rate it 5 stars!

***Disclaimer: Many thanks to Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review. Please be assured that my opinions are honest.

Jasmine at www.howusefulitis.wordpress.com for more details
500 reviews2,413 followers
August 21, 2018
giveaway for a copy of Mirage + free wallpaper download!

"You are not defined by the men in your life, no matter how powerful."

Mirage was definitely not what I was expecting--but not in a bad way! I was looking forward to reading a high-stakes survival story with lots of action and rebellion (I was totally imagining a fantasy version of The Hunger Games), but it was more along the lines of The Wrath and the Dawn with its slower pacing and intense focus on the romance.

Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing (!!!). The slow paved the way for some fantastic, in-depth character development. Amani, our fierce heroine, is an indigenous woman 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.

Then we have the actual princess, Maram, who is even more intriguing. She's technically the villain, but she has an incredibly interesting backstory that will make you 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.

This book does also have a romance, although one that is very much unnecessary. It's between Amani and Idris, who is Maram's betrothed. It's very sweet and soft, but I personally hoped for a more exciting romance between Amani and Maram. Idris just seemed a little flat for me, and I couldn't bring myself to really care for his character, no matter how kind and charming he was.

Mirage doesn't really have a lot going on, so if you're an action-seeker like me, this aspect may disappoint you. BUT! This book wins at world-building! Daud's writing is so elegant and intricate, and it definitely makes for an amazing and luscious world. Of course, this also led me to be occasionally confused by the backstories and politics, but that just be my fish brain going haywire again.

In short, I'd recommend Mirage for people looking for a strong heroine who they can look up to, a villain with actual depth, seductive world-building, and a very feminist story. If you're okay with a slower book and not a lot of action, be sure to give this book a try!


More reviews and bookish madness:
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,154 reviews1,514 followers
June 26, 2018
Mirage by Somaiya Daud is the first book of the new young adult romantic science fiction fantasy series by the same name. Eighteen year old Amani is from a poor family living in a village on a remote moon when droids show up scanning everyone they come across.

When the droids scan Amani they find something within her that causes her capture and to be whisked away from her home. The next Amani knows she is meeting Princess Maram and finds she is staring into what is practically her own face. That is when Amani knows what her crime was, being a mirror image of the Princess.

Princess Maram is not a kind soul, following in the footsteps of her father she is known to be wicked and cruel and her first meeting with Amani proves to be no different than the rumors have led Amani to believe. Tortured and forced to learn the Princess' every move Amani is forced to become her body double and stand in during events in which the Princess' life will be in danger from assassins.

I finished reading Mirage a couple of days ago and had to give this one some thought as to how I wanted to rate this opener. It's not a bad read by any means but I did have a few issues with this first book. The first being one that happens quite often and that is just being reminded of other books, movies or television, it took awhile to stop thinking of other things and get into this one on it's own.

But the second is not necessarily bad but more my own preference when it comes to fantasy and that is this one is a heavily character driven read. The biggest portion of this opener is Amani and Idris and their goo goo eyes for one another then the next is Amani and Maram and their relationship forming and it seemed anything and everything else was buried within those interactions. Personally I like more action and more use of the scifi world and politics that the story is set in. The end of the book really picked up though which might give an indication of book 2 going a bit faster now that the character building is set. So in the end I decided to go 3.5 stars on this opener and hope for more in the upcoming installment.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more review please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for ambsreads.
656 reviews1,396 followers
August 27, 2018
Buddy Reading this with my favourite Chris Hemsworth lover

Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an eARC. I also received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions on Mirage are my own, receiving a copy did not impact this at all.

Trigger Warnings: kidnapping, cultural erasure, physical abuse, war themes, murder, forced body altercations, talk of grief and trauma


An important note before I get started, I am not Moroccan nor do I know much about the history and culture of Morocco. A #ownvoices review by Em does though! Make sure to check out her review here. This story is also #ownvoices Moroccan rep, but I felt it important to link a reviewer sharing their story too.

Sometimes you read a book and it just makes you go wow. It changes your life and gives you a new trope to fall in love with. Mirage by Somaiya Daud. This book is truly on a new level, authors need to step up because Somaiya is someone to look out for.

I typically don’t like science fiction. I find the writing clunky sometimes and the technological advancements are always confusing to me. Mirage is the perfect merge of fantasy though. It truly is. At times I forget this book was science fiction because I was so immersed in the world and the characters. I just really need to get across what an incredible book this is. The author is incredibly talented and you won’t waste your time if you pick this up.

Somaiya Daud’s debut novel follows Amani, a dreamer and a village girl. She dreams of an adventure out of her home, an isolated moon. That is until she is kidnapped. She is taken straight to the royal palace, fearing the worse Amani is readying herself for death. However, the life she is about to be given may be worse than death. Meeting Princes Maram, Amani is shocked to learn that the pair of them are identical. It is because of this that Amani is forced into the role of being Maram’s body double. Amani is to appear at public events, ones that are dangerous for Maram or just because she simply doesn’t want to go. Amani is swept into a new world, one filled with expectations she had never had as the daughter of a farmer.

The story features romance, danger, and the glitter of friendship. There is a large political presence throughout the story. Themes of colonisation and internalised hatred for your own culture are highlighted throughout the story. There are truly so many layers to this particular story and there are so many routes for it to take in future books which is amazing.

Mirage is a hauntingly beautiful story. This is the kind of book that stays with you. It lingers in your thoughts and drives you to think. The writing of this book had me captured from the prologue and I did not want to put this book down. If I had had my way I would have finished it in one sitting and been happy.

I’m just going to air this out early so then I can gush about this book some more. I didn’t enjoy the romance of this book. It really doesn’t feel like it plays that large of a part in the book but at the beginning, I wasn’t feeling it. It truly feels rushed, which makes sense because it’s life or death for both of them, but I would have liked more interactions and build up between the characters. It would have really cemented the chemistry between the characters initially. As the story goes along there is definitely chemistry built, but that first kiss really threw me off for a while.

My favourite part of this book was definitely Maram. I don’t think we see her enough throughout this book, we probably do but I wanted more. Maram is straight up a villain in this story and the joy I felt at not seeing her redeemed through the story? Oh yeah boy, I’m here for it. I love female characters who are shamelessly going to kill someone. The power that Maram has is definitely not used for the good of her people, much like her father. Hell, Maram doesn’t care about her people. She truly just wants the crown and doesn’t give a shit who she has step on to get it.

Not only that, but the friendship that forms between Maram and Amani is excellent. One girl is controlling the others life but the pair organically start to become friends throughout the story. It was a really interesting factor to see, and not one I was expecting. I was prepared for more insults and arguments, or at least Amani plotting Maram’s death in her mind. That is not at all what happens. It is probably due to the caring nature of Amani but, seriously, wow this author is beyond talented in her work.

Straight up though, the body double trope is now my favourite trope. I have never read a story where a character is filling in for another. Whether that be by force or choice. It was just so damn interesting to see how it came together with this story. I would have liked a bit more violence in some parts because at some points it did feel as if it was all a bit easy for Amani. However, I still loved it. From the point that she arrives, she is forced to be Maram and the reasons why were fascinating. I couldn’t put this book down and I know it’s because of this new trope.

Overall, Mirage is a story everyone needs to read. It doesn’t matter if you don’t enjoy science fiction like me. It doesn’t matter if you simply don’t want to (seriously, why?). You need to pick up this story once it releases because it is worth every second you spend reading it. The author has a talent for creating a complex and layered story that truly enchants you. You will not be able to return to normal day to day life without having Mirage in the back of your mind. A spectacular debut, I can’t wait to see what else this author does.
Profile Image for lady h.
639 reviews181 followers
June 22, 2018
Okay. To preface: this is not a bad book. This is a good book. In some ways, in fact, it's great. I just want to stress this because my review might seem overly critical, but most of my reasons are really all about me and my tastes, which seem to be changing.

So what is this book about? Well, the Goodreads summary does a pretty good job explaining about 50% of the book (which is part of the problem, but I'll get to it later). So, Amani is Princess Maram's body double, she predictably falls in instalove with the Maram's fiance, and she predictably decides to spy for the rebellion. That's pretty much it (also part of the problem, but again, later).

Right, so, first, let me talk about what I loved. First, the North African culture. Y'all. Y'ALL. I have NEVER seen North African culture in a YA fantasy. I mean, yes, I'm Egyptian and not Moroccan and those two things are waaaaay more different than most people think but I still recognized a lot of stuff and it just filled me with joy to be reading about food and words and customs I was familiar with. I loved how the author played around with fantasy and reality and how she adapted Morocco's Amazigh culture. Like. You barely see vague Arab/Middle Eastern culture represented, let alone specific Amazigh things like their tradition of tattooing their faces. Loved that. And I loved how the author talked about colonialism and its effects.

Second, the writing. The writing is what initially drew me in. See, I hadn't planned on reading this book now at all. But I saw someone on here review it and I thought I'd just see how it starts and I was hooked by the writing, which was really good. It's very descriptive without overdoing anything and it's just the right amount of formal without being stilted. Third, I loved the relationship between Maram and Amani. I thought it was a really fascinating dynamic they had going on especially as they started to become friends. Whenever they had a scene together I was hooked.

Okay, now for the not so great.

First, this was boring. Like, really boring. Remember how I said the summary explains 50% of the book? Yeah. It's really slow. Barely anything actually happens in this book. Amani only meets the rebels at the 51% mark. It's just endless stretches of nothing happening, then Maram attending a party or something as Maram, and then nothing again. It was boring, and it was repetitive. By the 30% mark I was struggling to get through it. I just wasn't interested. Part of that is because the characters weren't that interesting. Maram is fascinating - I kind of wish we'd had the story from her perspective, actually. Amani is fine, but I didn't get strong vibes off her, and Idris is suuuuuuuper dull. He serves no purpose. He may as well not have existed.

Which brings me to my second point. The instalove. So, I don't actually hate romance. It might seem like I do, but I don't. I've been known to swoon over well-done romances. But this felt very much like an Inexplicable Heterosexual Romance shoehorned into an otherwise decent story for no reason at all. The first time Amani meets Idris she finds him handsome and charming, the second time they're together they make out, and the third time they're declaring their love for one another? It was dramatic and boring and predictable and it did not need to be there. Every scene these two had together was boring. Amani's interactions with literally every other character were so much more interesting.

Third, okay, I'm just gonna say it: the setting of this book is fucking weird. I don't get it. So, they're in space...there's galaxies and spaceships and androids, somehow...but they still live like it's Olden Times? What? I feel like the author was going for a Firefly-type vibe here, but it didn't work for me at all. I would start to find my groove somewhere and then the story would drove a word like "droid" or "holoreel" and it would take me right back out. It was so jarring and inconsistent. It felt like the technology that was included was just included to make certain things more convenient for the plot. I don't understand why this couldn't have just been set in Olden Times and left at that. I would have liked it way more. This way it just feels gimmicky, because the whole space/galaxy thing doesn't really come in except when the plot needs a particular technology. It's not even clear how long these people have lived here or what existed before these planets or where exactly they came from.

Finally, and here's where this review gets a lot more personal, I'm just so over this type of YA fantasy plot. I keep seeing it recycled over and over again. Country is conquered/a people are discriminated against, MC joins rebels and fights conquerors. It's been done to death. And, I mean, that's not this book's fault. Not at all. Like I said, I do think it's a good book, and, like Laura Sebastian's Ash Princess, it does the job it's meant to do, and I know there will be a lot of people who will love it. I totally get that. I might have loved it too, if I had read it in, say, 2015. But at this point, I've read this plot SO many times, with little to no new variations, that I'm just tired of it, and all the inevitable tropes that come along with it. Again, not the book's fault, and I highly recommend this to people who still do love this sort of YA fantasy, but at this point I think it's just not for me.
Profile Image for Charlotte Kersten.
Author 3 books431 followers
February 6, 2022
“Even your happiness is rebellion."

It’s been a bit since the last YA book I read and I’m happy to say that Mirage was a pleasant return to the genre. I’ve been trying to read as much as I can about colonialism lately and I’m especially itching for speculative stories of colonialism, so Mirage was a great fit. At the same time, there are a couple of weaknesses to the book that left me a little lukewarm.

I think the book’s absolute greatest strength lies with the character of Maram, the princess whom Amani is abducted to impersonate. She is a really complex character and her position in the Vath empire is a fascinating one that belies the complexities of biracial identity in a colonized world. We see her internalized hatred for being part Andalaan and the way that she is a tool of the Vath regime, a puppet to be paraded around, a manipulator who is manipulated in turn. She is too Vath for the Andalaan and too Andalaan for the Vath and so she exists in a liminal space made possible only by empire, truly belonging to neither group.

She does horrible things to Amani over the course of the book and these things are never excused, but at the same time I think Daud does a great job of showing her inner vulnerability and how she was shaped to be the way she is now. The relationship between the two girls is a complex and uncomfortable dynamic to be sure - Amani says clearly that she is a slave in all but name and nonetheless takes it upon herself to try to change Maram because, while she is oppressing Amani, Amani sees that she in turn is being used by the empire. She tries to make use of this commonality, attempting to turn Maram into an ally to the rebellion. There is genuine sisterhood and affection in their relationship, to be sure, but how do we make sense of that given Maram’s power and Amani’s powerlessness? At first I was worried that the book would argue that it’s the responsibility of the oppressed to humanize themselves to the oppressor but I definitely don’t think that’s what Daud is saying. Rather, I think the point is to understand that it is possible to be oppressed and marginalized at the same time, and that it is important to find commonality in shared aspects of disenfranchisement if possible.

It’s a really rich and thought-provoking dynamic, clearly, and my favorite part of my story overall. I also appreciated some of the things we see through Amani’s story as well as Idris’s. We see how Amani is forced to become like Maram, assimilating herself to the empire’s standards of behavior while struggling against its claim on her autonomy and core identity. It’s also very interesting that Idris discusses how he and the other child survivors of murdered elite families all came to distrust each other as the Vath pitted them against each other so that they wouldn’t rise against the Vath together - divide and conquer. I think Mirage just absolutely nails the complexity of survival/existence and relationships under empire - the betrayals and compromises, the desperation to cling to what is yours and the way that identity and loyalty can be eroded away but nonetheless remain possible and more vital than ever.

With that being said about Amani and Idris, however, I think the book’s greatest weakness lies in their characterization for me. Though I appreciated the points I just mentioned, I did not find either of them to be especially complex or interesting characters. Put together I cared even less for their romance. It moves quite quickly and hits all the familiar beats of YA romances. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with it but I do feel that it detracts from the much more interesting aspects of the book such as Amani’s relationship with Maram and the rebellion.

The book’s writing is smooth and lyrical and I loved the inclusion of poetry as well as all of the descriptions of North African-inspired culture. While I’m on this point I’ll mention that some reviews I saw complained about the world-building not making sense because it’s such a combination of sci-fi high tech and North African tradition but...eh. I think the emphasis on a culture that’s overlooked in spec fic is more meaningful to me than a complex explanation of how high tech and traditional ways exist together. It just isn’t the hardest thing for me to accept, thought it’s clear that others feel differently.

Finally, I’ll just mention that I love that Daud is clearly a massive BioWare fan - there is a character named Corypheus in Mirage, and her author profile picture on her shows her wearing an N7 jacket. :)
Profile Image for Grace A..
384 reviews40 followers
March 29, 2022
It was refreshing to read fantasy romance from a non-western culture. Especially from a part of the world where “PDA” is rarely seen. It was a a fast, easy and enjoyable read.
The world building was phenomenal and the characters had depth. Amani the main character was kidnapped to act as a body double for a cruel Vathek princess. She played her role so well, she was able to use her new position to forge alliances and lay a pathway for freedom for a kingdom ruled by a ruthless tyrant.
I pictured a different ending while reading, but it took a turn I wasn’t expecting and that, in and of itself was fantastic. First, because it turned out not as predictable as I thought, and created a longing to read the next book in the series.
Loved it! 4 stars.
Profile Image for Benjamin .
264 reviews285 followers
August 8, 2018
I received ARC in exchange for an honest review,

Full review posted

I just arrived back home after a long trip and I have the feeling that I have already forgotten how to write a decent review, so please don’t hate me if this review ends up being a mess. (I have only one free week left before college starts and I’m not feeling ready enough).
Mirage is one of those books that since the first time you heard of it, you are almost a 100% sure you will enjoy it. Fortunately, I will talk about exactly about the amazing journey that it was having the chance to read this book.

The book follows the story of Amani, a girl who lives in a galactic system under the rule of the Vathek empire, an empire famous for its ruthlessness and brutality. This eighteen-year-old girl has always dreamed of a world in which everyone is again free and able to live and experience their culture through art, especially poetry. However, everything is taken away from her the day she is kidnapped by the empire and taken away from her family with not apparently explanation.
It is until she is taken to the royal palace when she discovers she has been kidnapped to be used as a replacement for the half-Vathek princess Maram. What she never expected, was to look the same as the princess.

Despite the punishments and the insufferable pain induced by Maram as an attempt “mend” her, Amani is convinced that good things will come from this and fights against it in the hope to see her family once again. What she doesn’t know is that this will be the beginning of a destiny long ago written, of an impossible love and of learning to let things go by their own way.


This is without any doubt the thing I love the most about this book. As far as I know, and I could inform me, this is a Moroccan inspired story, set in a not so distant events that actually happened in Morocco around the 1960s (when I read something I’m not familiarized with, I had to do my own research and that is something I absolutely love in books).

Everything is so well described and the historical parts match perfectly with the sci-fi style the author created into this book, that it feels you are actually experiencing and intergalactic historical adventure. Full of myths, subtle magic, fantasy, culture and advanced technology.

If you read this book (which you should do), I truly recommend you enrich your knowledge by reading some information about Moroccan history and culture. It will make the experience even better.

🍂Writing style:

It is almost as good as its worldbuilding.

With such amazing narrative, Somaya Daud has created an unforgettable, compelling and magical book. She has weaved the exact amount of anxiety, intrigue, and heroism to create the perfect story. Each emotion thought and action is so well described that it becomes impossible not to get immersed in each character’s life.

Despite the above mentioned, do not expect it to be a fast-paced book. Daud takes her time to create each scenario that sometimes you may even lose the interest, but do not worry, it’d be worth your time and patience at the end.


The weakest aspect of the book.

The book goes mainly around 3 characters, and that’s the only thing we get to see and know. (Of course, there are some others, but for me, they were partially mentioned, so they don’t truly count). Such a rich story and world, lacking more character development, I don’t know, I think we have a problem right here, honey.

🍃Maram: she is without any doubt my favorite character. I did like how the author created such an amazing changing personality in her, how she made her look and feel like something real and palpable, something truly human.
In her, you will be able to find a great evil and a cute girl, but it will be only throughout the reading, that you will learn more about who she truly is and the course of all her actions.

🍃Amani: she is a very good and well-developed female character. I feel honored and happy to finally have the chance to read a book with a strong female character who decisions are not only based on pride and pretense but on reason and common sense.
It was quite a journey to see how much she grows and how her passion never dies. The hope of finding her purpose gives birth to a new personality in her that makes her become a memorable character with a memorable story. I only wish she hadn’t fallen prey to the wretchedness of love.

🍃Idris: not my cup of tea. Like seriously, there hadn’t been a more boring and useless character in the story of YA novels.
If he hadn’t existed there wouldn’t have been a typical love interest and maybe, just maybe, there would have been something beautiful and amazing between Amani and Maram (I actually thought the author was going that way).
I didn’t get to know him pretty well; his personality was merely sketched and not well established. I do hope I get to know more about him in the next book.
That’s where my concern with the author resides; maybe Daud focused too much into the worldbuilding that she forgot to pay attention to the second most important part of a book and what gives it its essence.

Overall, despite my not so great experience with the characters in the book, I truly recommend you to read this book and I you are completely allowed to hit me if you don’t like it. (Of course, I’d like to know first why you didn’t like it).
Profile Image for Umairah (Sereadipity).
212 reviews107 followers
August 19, 2020
Mirage was a Moroccan and Amazigh (who are the indigenous people of North Africa) inspired sci-fi (with the feel of a fantasy) and it was quite literally the book of my dreams. I don't think words can convey how much this book means to me but I'll give it a go!

Content Warnings: violence, physical abuse, torture, themes of colonialism

Plot: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Writing: 5/5

I'm half Moroccan Amazigh and reading a book so interwoven with Moroccan and Amazighi culture and history meant the world. From aspects like the food (all the food descriptions made me so hungry!), language, clothes and traditions to more subtle cultural nuances, I've never read a book where I felt so seen! There was a specific scene, where one character taught another to cook miloui (a type of Moroccan flatbread), which I could directly relate to because I remembered when my mum taught me to cook it myself!

Mirage explored colonialism, cultural appropriation and erasure, themes that are relevant today and have been throughout history not just in Morocco but all over the world. I loved how poetry was an important motif as a method of resistance and rebellion. Also, there was a religion (that felt slightly reminiscent of Islam) in the book that revolved around a deity called Dihya and historically, Dihya was an Amazigh warrior queen who for many symbolises anti-colonialism and feminism.

"Even your happiness is rebellion."

The book is set on a planet called Andala (and its two terraformed moons called Cadiz and Gibra) which had been conquered by an empire from another planet called the Vathek, at the time the book is set Andalans had been suffering under their brutal rule for years. Amani was an eighteen-year-old Kushaila girl (Kushaila were the oldest tribe group on Andala) kidnapped from her village on Cadiz to be Princess Maram's body double at public events as they looked pretty much exactly the same. She was thrust into a completely unfamiliar world that was dazzling on the surface but sinister beneath where she had to navigate court intrigue and politics and weather violence and slavery.

"Change takes bravery, yabnati."

I loved Amani as she was so strong in the face of adversity. Her identity, agency and future dreams were stolen from her but she survived, she adapted to her situation and made a place for herself. Gradually, she built up the courage and resilience to channel her anger at the injustices her people endured into action. I also loved how she was smart, soft and kind with immense loyalty for her loved ones and her people and a passion for poetry, throughout the book I was rooting for her. I also adored her forbidden romance with Idris. I don't usually like insta-love romances but theirs was so emotive and poignant without becoming the main focus of the book.

Maram was one of the most interesting characters I've ever read about. Her father, the king, was Vathek and her mother was Kushaila. All her life she had been taught to hate her mother's legacy and people while also being disdained by the Vath for her Kushaila blood. There was nowhere she truly belonged and was accepted as she was. She channeled the turmoil inside her through being cruel so no one would think her weak or see her pain. Gradually, as Amani befriends her and starts to understand her the reader does too. We see her vulnerability, grief and helplessness and instead of a cruel princess we see a boat lost at sea in need of a lighthouse to guide its way home. Maram and Amani's sisterly friendship was beautifully done.

"It was a cruel person that judged a child by their parent's legacy."

The sci-fi aspect of the book was a bit confusing as the boundaries of their technology weren't established and at times it felt more like a fantasy novel. But this is a very minor observation as it had no impact on my enjoyment or love for the book.

Mirage was a brilliant novel with powerful, uncompromising writing and strong female characters that I love with all my heart. If you haven't read it yet... what are you waiting for?

Thank you to Flatiron Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,779 followers
May 17, 2023
This was really good; so original. I loved the world and characters Daud created here. I'm really looking forward to picking up the sequel!


Book #8 for my TBR Haul-Project!!!

I'm still cooking with gas on this project and not gonna lie, I'm pretty stoked about it.

I hauled this book all the way back in September 2018, when a special edition arrived in my monthly Owlcrate box. I had never heard of it, but the synopsis was intriguing enough and the cover beautiful enough for me to keep it.

Let's see how it goes!
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