Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

4 stars: I really liked it.

Mirage cover (link to Goodreads)

This book surprised me. In some ways it feels familiar (court intrigue, forbidden romance, evil empire vs. rebellion), what’s really great about it is what it says about colonialism (the setting is based on historical Morocco) and the complex characters who fill the two starring roles. Maram is the cold, cruel princess, and Amani is her slave/body double. Despite the princess, the balls, etc., this is actually a space opera, not a fantasy. The story sizzles as Maram and Amani get gradually more familiar with one another and realize that things are not as simple as they seemed at first. The romance beween Maram and Amani’s fiance is well done also. I enjoyed the difficult decisions Amani was forced to make over the course of the book and the way the book made me think. Recommended.

Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshana Chokshi

2.5 stars: It was somewhere between okay and good.

Aru Shah and the End of Time cover (link to Goodreads)

To be fair, the book had to be returned to the library before I finished. I think I was 2/3 through. There were things I liked about it (the premise and the mythology mainly), but I didn’t quite feel as if the author had zeroed in enough on the character or the plot. It’s hard to say for sure since I didn’t finish reading, and if I hadn’t run out of time I probably would have. But since I now need to put it back on hold to read the rest, I find I don’t care enough to. Many people find this book a lot of fun. It’s been compared to Percy Jackson, only with Hindu mythology instead of Greek. (Spoiler for a few weeks from now: I didn’t like Percy Jackson either. In fact, I liked it much less than Aru Shah.)