Ebook, 320 pages
Sci-fi/ Fantasy/ YA
By: Somaiya Daud
“Even Your Happiness is rebellion.”
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 don’t usually put synopsis but I felt it was important to understand this review and because I went into the story without even knowing what is it about!
🌟 I know this book will get a lot of good reviews and ratings which is cool and makes me happy for the author. The problem is that this is a debut novel and it felt like one!
🌟 I am not a big Sci-fi reader, I read a lot of fantasy and this was like a simpler version of Red rising (Where one character is basically trying to be another). I know they are quite different but I felt that most of the plot was easily predictable. And while I like the simplicity of this book, it was a bit lacking in the writing which also affected the characters.
🌟 There were a few beginner mistakes that should have been remedied by the editor. There was a lot of telling rather than showing. Since we are talking about Red rising which was much more complicated -and that may not have necessarily been a good thing- but character wise, it was exceedingly good! There was a slow build up and change of the MC from point A to Z. That happened in many long pages filled with conversations and hard situations and thought-provoking things. While here we were just told that and BAM, the character suddenly changed. After a few chapters and when you’re convinced that the 2 girls are the same now, another character shows you they are not. You can’t judge by yourself because once again, you are told not shown.
🌟 And the use of Arabic words was refreshing but why was it inconsistent: Why is the Prince called Amir while the princess is not Amira (The female equivalent of Amir), and why did she choose the word Shatranj while the board game they were playing is chess and nothing too fancy! And there are more examples…
🌟 And since I felt I read all of this before I was not thrilled and excited to know what happens next until the last chapters. I didn’t have problems with the world-building but I wish we had a bit more of it.
🌟 So, if you are new to the genre this book is not bad, but if you read a few books of this kind then you may want to skip this book. I ended up giving it 3.25 stars out of 5 stars.