Mirage by Somaiya Daud | A Book Review

First of all, let me thank Netgalley and Flatiron Books for the chance to read and review this book: Mirage by Somaiya Daud.
As always, these thoughts are my own. This review is spoiler-free and no main plot points are revealed.

I give this story 3.5 stars.

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;  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.

YA Sci-Fi that feels almost like Historical Fantasy.

Okay, I’ll be honest, I had NO IDEA that this was sci-fi until a droid popped up on the page. Wow. It had been so long since i requested it from Netgalley that it had totally slipped my mind. And with a title and a cover like that, I was expecting a fantasy, or even historical fiction. What I got was a brilliantly crafted novel, laden heavily with an Arabic/ Indian vibe and some rich worldbuilding.

I loved Amani, the main character. She acts like a real person who’s been kidnapped + forced to be a body double. She doesn’t while away her time sneaking out and fighting back, she settles in and waits, serves, and watches. The depth of world and the expert combination of middle-east vibes + sci-fi astonished me. I’m in for more.

However, I was disappointed in her reasoning to stay and her complacency near the end. This book got a 3.5 star rating because of it (I can’t say, it’s spoilers, but you’ll figure it out, sweetie) as well as the fact that I’m not one hundred percent sure that this story has a plot. It does, of course, but it’s not clear from the beginning what Amani wants and where she’s going, and there’s no clear inciting incident or denouement. It’s just a part of a book, leading to another book in the series later on, and that disappoints me. It seems like most series nowadays don’t have individual books, just one giant book broken up between a series.

Have you read Mirage? What were your opinions?