I have to admit I requested this book based on the cover… 🤦♀️🤷♀️ However, the synopsis looked very intriguing and I decided I was happy having already requested this book.
This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review. Thank you.
The release date is set to 28th August 2018.
Remember this is an ARC copy and the final version might have changed.
by Somaiya Daud
Synopsis by NetGalley
‘Somaiya Daud is a rare talent. A smart, romantic, exciting debut.’ – Veronica Roth, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Divergent
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.
In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, sixteen-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 poetry she loves to hear read, she dreams of one day receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have an adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.
But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects. When she is kidnapped by the government and taken in secret to the royal palace, 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, and one wrong move could lead to her death.
Mostly female characters
The world and setting
This story is sweet and enchanting. I think it’s supposed to be badass but I didn’t get that. There are predominately female characters and most of these are in high positions which were great and refreshing. To me, this was an entertaining story but mild. The world is pretty amazing and in my head was a mix of middle-eastern culture and living, and science fiction with spaceship and robots. It’s a wonderful mix.
The story was well developed. I like the progression of the story. There was a couple of location where I thought I saw a pattern of what would happen, as a classic YA plot twists etc, but they did not occur and left me a tad bit surprised, which was very nice.
The execution of the story had flaws. Several scenes were not explained fully or cut short by telling the reader what happened in a sentence and then moved on.
There were also events within the story that felt too easy. There wasn’t enough struggle or competition or something that caused friction and tension in these individual scenes and events which made it feel too easy. But maybe I’ve just read really difficult and hardcore book lately… Anyway. That is the main reason why I describe the story as mild.
I loved this world! It’s an amazing, very scenic world that mixed middle eastern culture and tradition with space technology and robots. However, the science fiction part is almost left to the background while the middle eastern type living style and the religion took a prominent seat.
I felt there was just the right amount of world building, though I would have liked more information about certain things to add a thickness to the layer.
There is no magic in this story. Or none that I noticed.
The main character is Amani and she very early on in the book kidnapped and sent to the palace to train to become the hated princess body double. I got told by the writing that she evolves throughout the story but I didn’t really see it which is a shame. I didn’t fully connect with Amani either. There was a distance which prevented me from fully immersing with her and her journey. I felt the characters around Amani evolves more than her. Amani’s evolution is more told while the others are more shown which could be the reason why I felt Amains evolution is small; when I’m told something by the author, I never fully believe it until I see it which I didn’t in the case of Amain’s change. This also prevented me from becoming emotionally connected with Amani. I was way more emotionally invested in Idris than anyone else, so there the author did a good job as I wanted him too 😂
Having said all that I did like Amani as a person and would happily read another book with her in.
There is no LGBTQ+ in this story, nor in between the lines.
The romance is very sweet, but I felt, in the beginning, it happened too fast and almost a bit instalove, even though they are engaged (well she’s only pretending) and should be close I still felt it was too much of a sudden emotional connection.
I had issues with the writing. There are no spelling mistakes or flawed sentence structure so don’t worry about that. But there is telling instead of showing. And a lot of stuff is cut short (without surprisingly feeling short) and only told what has happened. For example, there is a scene toward the end when Amani is sneaking out at night through a tunnel to meet someone. The way it’s described is all about the night and the quiet surroundings, getting out of bed and getting dressed, leaving the room, explaining there would be a tunnel, exiting the tunnel…! Between two sentences she has walked through the tunnel. there is no explanation or her feelings, her stress, or nerves or anything which gives me a feeling of trepidation or something. These scenes annoyed me mainly because the potential is there but not utilised to the full extent which is a shame really.
This is the area that lets the book down. If the writing had been thicker and more showing than telling, this book would have been an amazing book because the story is already there.
My main issue was the writing which annoyed me. There was too much telling instead of showing, and several events were just informed of by a sentence instead of shown in a scene. I also couldn’t connect with the main character. I felt more for Idris. I had a deeper connection with him than any other character.
I enjoyed this book, but It felt a bit easy and sweet to me. I can see this as a movie though 😉 It’s a very scenic book!
I will read the second book in the series though as I really enjoyed the story and the world.
Have you read this? What did you think?