My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you, Macmillan, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Hope might have set fire to all things, but out of those ashes the resistance to the Vath would rise. I would make sure of it.
This book has been receiving much hype in the YA community. Before its release, Mirage was compared to The Diabolic, which also follows a girl forced to impersonate an endangered royal. I haven’t read the latter, so I was fortunately spared from jadedness or disappointment. In my opinion, this book mostly lives up to the hype, particularly in the cultural diversity department.
This book started with a captivating prologue. An unidentified boy aimed his gun at Maram, the infamous Vathek princess whose father had colonized Andalaan. Basically, from the very beginning, I was encouraged to dislike Maram. So when she had Amani kidnapped and abused, my feelings evolved into complete annoyance. It came to a point that I wanted to call her a female dog. Ahem. Spoiled princesses are all the more irritating when they have a penchant for unnecessary violence. I shall never forget how Maram ordered her giant bird to maul Amani. During that scene, I was like What the heck is wrong with you, girl?
Little did I know that my opinion of Maram would suddenly change (a little). A significant portion of the book focused on Amani and Maram’s interactions, which were not always friendly. After a few months of functioning as a body double (human shield), Amani realized that she couldn’t entirely blame Maram for being so despicable. After all, Maram was a half-blood, neither Vathek nor Andalaan. In other words, no one in the galaxy—not even her wicked father—really loved her. I myself began to sympathize with Maram once I grasped the severity of her upbringing. Nonetheless, I couldn’t disregard my conviction that we are also products of our choices. If our parents raised us in a certain way, we can choose to be different. Sorry, Maram! xD
When I reached the penultimate chapters, I neither hated nor liked Maram. I understood her potential to be a “benevolent” queen, but I thought that Amani should’ve been more…critical toward her. Because if they had been in a “romantic” situation, I would have deducted points for Stockholm Syndrome. Is it okay for someone to willingly befriend and protect a kidnapper? (To be fair, Amani did so for ethical reasons.)
It’s funny that I’ve talked so much about Maram when she’s not even the main protagonist! Her impact was much more significant than Amani’s. I did like Amani since she was a headstrong girl who treasured her family more than anything (including her partner in instalove named Idris). Still, her character arc was too familiar, perhaps even unremarkable. In this case, it’s probably the genre’s fault. Hahaha.
Overall, Mirage doesn’t deserve a perfect rating, but it’s still a noteworthy debut novel. Maram, who was such a multifaceted antagonist, tested my patience and made the story very interesting. I just hope that she’ll have a permanent change of heart in the sequel.