By: Somaiya Daud
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genre: Scifi, Romance
Page Count: 320
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
The first section of this review will be spoiler free
This was a really interesting scifi read. It honestly read more like a fantasy star-crossed lovers story than a scifi. The fact art it takes place on an alien planet barely came into play, but in a way that was fine. I liked that the world building didn’t overtake the story and that the characters themselves sort of guided us through what we needed to know. I think that the story could have benefitted from being a bit longer so as to give us more time to get on board with the romance. I like the main couple, but I felt like they were leaning too much towards insta-love for it to be wholly believable. I also would have liked more time with Amani and Princess Maram, to explore their dynamic, and though I assume there will be a sequel (considering how this one ended) i still wanted more of a foundation to be built in book one.
This is one of the only scifi books I have read that focuses to closely on a culture, rather than the place, and I really liked that. We got a real insight into Amani’s religious and cultural identity and made her character more well rounded. I think the book could have also benefited form a multiple POV addition, jus tot give us an alternative perspective and flesh out the narrative a bit more.
Overall I really enjoyed this book, and that was enough to bump it up to four stars for me. For the technical aspects I would only give the book three stars, as it was somewhat lacking in the development department. It is rare that the overall story is so engaging that I overlook some of the shortfalls in the writing but this was definitely one of those cases.
I mean, spoiler alert Amani and Idris fall in love, what a surprise (said no one). I basically knew that was going to happen form page one, but I did enjoy their romance anyways. I also like that Maram and Amani developed a weird kind of friendship, and as I said above I would have liked that to be explored a little more. All in all the ending was to be expected, Maram thinks Amani betrayed her, and has lost the fragile trust they were starting to build. Hopefully we get a sequel and can explore their relationship a bit more!
have you read this book? let me know your thoughts in the comments!