ARC: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

miragegoodreads-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; 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.

commentary

When I first picked up Mirage from my tbr pile at home, I had no idea what I was expecting. I can best describe this book as the female version of The Prince and The Pauper in Space with hints of forced colonialism and imperialism. The first chapter had me hooked on the story, and normally, it takes a couple chapters before I become invested in a book.

Mirage was quite different from what I have read. To begin, it seems like not much happened, that was my original thought when I first finished the book. After letting my thoughts marinate for a couple days, this book does not bring the action, but it builds up to potential conflict that the characters will encounter in the upcoming sequel.

To begin, Amani is not the chosen one, nor is she a Mary Sue character. Amani dreams of having her life with far less restrictions, she and her family live in a village. She has a passion for reading books, especially poetry. She and her brothers live in a society where the Vathek Empire has subjugated other planets into submission, and Amani’s planet is one of them. When Amani’s village is celebrating a special cultural practice, robots serving the empire take Amani by force away from her people and family. Amani is forced into a position in which she has no control over her body, nor her fate.

Amani shares a close resemblance to Princess Maram. Amani is presented as a fragile when compared to Maram’s vicious nature. Amani becomes the Empire’s puppet in order to protect the princess from any danger. Given the tough situation, Amani does get agency. Though being Maram’s body double did give Amani fright at first, she learns that she can wield her own power given her position. Amani obeys and listens to her orders, but, she also learns to manipulate her situation.

The relationship between Maram and Amani is complicated. The princess is shown to be as a morally grey character. As a reader, you question Maram’s ideals. Was she influenced by her nature, or her nurture?  At the same, you can’t help but feel sorry for the princess. She was been raised by her Vathek family, and it has served as a factor to why she behaves in a cruel, and unjust manner.

As for the love interest, I will admit, it was definitely a insta-love situation, and usually I loathe insta-love relationships. But, I found myself digging the relationship between Amani and Idris. It was a forbidden love, and both characters are forced into positions that they have to comply to. Though, I am interested to know how Idris and Maram are in a relationship, because it’s vague and left to the imagination. The ending left me craving for the next book immediately. The very last chapters has the suspense and action that it was lacking in the first portion. I came with little to no expectations when it came to Mirage, but I wholeheartedly love it. It’s science fiction, fantasy, has the drama you need, and I think I might ship Amani and Maram more than Idris and Amani!

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Winter by Marissa Meyer: Book Review

“She’s our lost princess. And she’s coming home.”

☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆ Goodreads Synopsis: Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.

Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.

Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

Commentary: I have been looking forward to reading Winter ever since I finished Cress last year. Winter has been on my tbr list for a very long time. When I got the book, I immediately wanted it read it, but I had other books I had to read first. It has been the longest book that I have read for this year!!! ⤴︎ ε=ε=(ง ˃̶͈̀ᗨ˂̶͈́)۶ ⤴︎

I really found the last book to be really amazing. The series got better with each book. I liked Cinder, Scarlet was better, Cress was amazing, and Winter was epic. I really can’t believe that the adventure is finally over. (⁎⁍̴̀﹃ ⁍̴́⁎)♡

As I mentioned, this book is massive and there are so many things that were happening in this book. Honestly, I felt that this book should have been a bit longer just because I felt some of the characters did not have enough screen time. For example, I felt that Winter did not have enough time as the other characters. She is one of the most complex heroines. She refuses to use her lunar gift, but she is mentally ill because of it. I really liked how Marissa Meyer handled her character. Winter was really precious. I loved her friendship with Scarlet, since at first Scarlet didn’t trust her, but eventually their friendship grows.

“Winter tilted her head in Scarlet’s direction. A spiral of black hair fell across her cheek, obstructing her scars. “What did you bring me today?” Scarlet asked. “Delusional mutterings with a side of crazy? Or is this one of your good days?”

What I loved was how all the characters are based on fairy tales. I liked how Meyer gave the Snow White story a twist. Though I wish Winter and Jacin had more of a backstory. Secondly, this book had many comedic moments! ╰(✧∇✧╰)

Thorne scoffed. “Careful is my middle name. Right after Suave and Daring.”
“Do you even know what you’re saying half the time?” asked Cinder.

Oh how I am going to miss Thorne so much.

“Thorne’s voice pitched high in imitation of the queen. “The impostor of my beloved niece is vanquished … Let us put this messiness behind us while we go forward with the coronations … I am a psychotic, power-hungry nut basket and my breath smells really bad under this veil.”

It was a good balance with the drama that was happening. I did like the bromance between Kai and Thorne.

Other than that, Levana is still evil and just as crazy. There were moments where I was feeling pity towards her, but Levana is not redeemable at all. I won’t spoil anything because you have to read this book. It’s dramatic and action packed, and it made me teary eye by the end of the book. I will really miss these characters. I will miss their adventures. I will truly miss The Lunar Chronicles. At least Stars Above is coming out next year! Can’t wait for the epilogue! ໒( ♥ ◡ ♥ )७

My favorite pairings:

  1. Cinder and Kai – Loved this couple from the beginning of the series. Of course, they would be my top pairing. Kai and Cinder sacrifice so much for each other, and I was glad that they have a happily ever after.
  2. Cress and Thorne – I would have loved it even more if they had more moments together. They have the funniest moments, and they are one of the cutest pairings.
  3. Scarlet and Wolf – I love this couple, they have many great moments in the last book. They have been through so much in this book.
  4. Winter and Jacin – They have loved each other since they were young and they are childhood friends. I would have wished for more moments between Jacin and Winter. I felt they were a bit under developed compared to the other pairings, but they did have their cute moments.

Quotes:

“A kiss from the Captain would probably melt my central processor.”
Thorne winked at her. “Oh trust me. It would.”

“Help me. Fight for me. And I will be the first ruler in the history of Luna who will also fight for you.”

“I can’t believe this is happening. I can’t fight like this, or start a revolution, or be a queen. I can’t do anything like this. I’m broken. I’m literally broken.” Iko settled a hand on Cinder’s shoulder. “Yeah, but broken isn’t the same as unfixable.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ ☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆.。.:*・°☆

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Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Book Review

“The gods rule us still. They have come down from the stars. And they are no longer kind.”

Goodreads Synopsis: MARE BARROW’S WORLD IS DIVIDED BY BLOOD—those with red and those with silver. Mare and her family are lowly Reds, destined to serve the Silver elite whose supernatural abilities make them nearly gods. Mare steals what she can to help her family survive, but when her best friend is conscripted into the army she gambles everything to win his freedom. A twist of fate leads her to the royal palace itself, where, in front of the king and all his nobles, she discovers a power of her own—an ability she didn’t know she had. Except… her blood is Red.

To hide this impossibility, the king forces her into the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks her new position to aid the Scarlet Guard—the leaders of a Red rebellion. Her actions put into motion a deadly and violent dance, pitting prince against prince—and Mare against her own heart.

From debut author Victoria Aveyard comes a lush, vivid fantasy series where loyalty and desire can tear you apart and the only certainty is betrayal.

Commentary: I read many great reviews about Red Queen, and how amazing it is. it took me a while to get into the book. I felt that it was a tad overhyped. It reminded me of Shin Sekai Yori because there are two classes of people: ones with power and the other slaves.This book did remind me of X-Men since the Silvers have godlike powers. Mare Barrow, what can I say? There were moments many moments in the book where i wanted to slap her. She complained way too much and was jealous of her younger sister. I guess the author tried to make Mare seem like a strong female character, but I didn’t get that vibe from her. She had a destructive personality and was pretty selfish, but there were some moments were I was rooting for her. I really like her power of lightening! The beginning was a bit slow for me, most of the time I was wondering how would Mare get her powers. I liked how Mare’s ability activated when she was about to die during the Queenstrial contest. I found it funny how Mare just wanted to go back home, and the royals were like “You have to change your identity and live with us. You are now Mareena Titanos, whether you like it or not. And oh, by the way, you’re going to marry the younger prince. Your old life was awful, but not anymore! Congratulations. You’re welcome.” I knew that she was going to join the rebels and spy on the Silvers. But, I can’t see Mare being the key figure to the rebellion. There are more Reds with special abilities, I hope someone else can represent the rebellion.  She wasn’t the best female protagonist, nor the worst, just a little below average.  My heart is broken. Maven, oh Maven.  I thought that Maven was the right guy for Mare, while Cal was not. I hated how the author made Maven so likable while Cal was not. I hate how you seemed caring, thoughtful, and honest, but you used Mare as a pawn. Most of all, I hate how malicious you became Maven. I was rooting for Maven until he betrayed Mare. I don’t know how to feel anymore. This whole time, I thought he wanted change his society and help the the Scarlet Guard. Nope, he had other plans. I don’t like Maven now and I have some trust issues with Cal. Maven sort of reminded me of the Darkling from the Grisha series, but not he’s not as cool as him because Maven is a mama’s boy. (Darkling > Maven 😌). Now, Kilorn, Mare’s best friend, was irrelevant to me. He likes her, but she only sees him as a friend. I’m glad that he author did not include any romantic moments between Mare and him. Though the guys love Mare, there wasn’t much romance in this book. I really couldn’t trust anyone in this story. The twist, I wasn’t expecting that.  Didn’t think the king would die, didn’t expect Cal to be the “good guy”, and I definitely didn’t expect Shade to be alive. Anyone can betray anyone. The book was quite a fast read. By the time I finished, I wanted more. I hope the sequel in this trilogy explains how the Silvers came into power.

Quotes: 

“In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.”

“Rise, red as the dawn.”

“Do you, Prince? Do you understand what it’s like to be taken away from everything you love, forced to be something else? To lie every minute of every day for the rest of your life. To know there’s something wrong with you?

Final Rating: 👑👑👑