Author: Somaiya Daud
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Pages: 320 pages
Year of Publication: August 28th, 2018
Genre:Young Adult, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Romance
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.
I love how this book was inspired by North African culture and history, it really adds the color to YA fantasy books. There are so many exciting things to discover about this new (to me) culture and history, about how they live, their tradition, inheritance, and the impact of colonialism. And I love all of the ideas but unfortunately it was not well executed.
I love the body double idea but I didn’t expect that this WHOLE book is basically Amani trying as best as her could to be Maram. I mean literally nothing happened except Amani went to parties, meetings, and family gathering as Maram which is boring and dull. Well it does has a climax, for a really short moment in the last few pages, but I didn’t feel any tension, in fact I didn’t feel anything at all.
The worldbuilding is the one thing I didn’t like the most. It’s so weird, like super weird. The story is set in space and they have all the futuristic technologies like droid, air space, and all the super techs but they still lives like ancient history. Empire government? Horse carriage? Please, the space thing and futuristic techs didn’t contribute to the story in any way at all so why can’t it be the normal, ancient, fictional kingdom like most YA fantasy? It’s like this book is trying to be unique but instead turn out to be a weirdo.
The writing is beautiful though, it’s actually pretty great considering it’s a debut. I love that this book included some beautiful and breath-taking poetry. The pace is so slow and there’s not much happening in this book. It makes it hard for me to be fully engage with the story, it’s dragging so much I even dozed off several times! It was entirely my fault to expect so much. Well I admit when I first read the synopsis I kinda expected some thrilling adventures and nerve-racking rebellion acts and uprising scenes but hey, it’s only the first book!
Now let’s talk about the characters, Amani is a scared girl when she was kidnapped but she quickly recovered and try her best to be tough, or at least pretend to be. She plays the role of Maram perfectly just for the sake of her family and her people. Princess Maram is a teenage brat who actually confuse with her life (hey, we’ve been there too!), which made her all moody and indecisive, but also real and relatable. I love her character and the development of her character throughout the story, and also love the ups and downs relationship between the two of them. Idris is Maram fiancee, I think he’s totally insignificant in this story. The romance feel forced and I hate the insta-love, but luckily the romance was not the main point of the story.
I’m not saying the book is bad, it’s an okay read for me, it’s just didn’t lived up to my expectation that’s all. But if you love a more strategic and political fantasy with a little bit of romance, character driven story, a tough heroine, and a villain who you could relate to, then you have to give this book a try!
Thanks to Aimee, Always for organizing this blog tour and gave me a chance to be one of the host! And thank you to NetGalley, and Flatiron Books for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review!
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.
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Have you read this book? If so what do you think? If not, is this book in your TBR? Are you excited to read this book?