Amani, our 16 year old heroine receives facial tattoo’s that tell a story about her family’s history as well as attributes of her personality. When some robot type soldiers scan her face and take her hostage, I was intrigued. OK, this is a Moorish/Sci-fi book. Interesting! When Amani finds out why she has been taken, because she has features close enough to be their princesses body double I thought hmmm again. I’m not sure how this is all going to fit together. Even though at times I stopped to hmmm at the plot, I did think Samaiya Daud crafted a really interesting world.
As I read further the interesting bits seemed to fade away until I felt like I was reading another Alwyn Hamilton novel though not as exciting. A young woman finds herself in unfortunate circumstances and rises above her situation to take a stand against the evil empire and fall in love. Don’t get me wrong, it was an enjoyable story! It just felt kind of familiar. What wasn’t familiar was the science fiction aspect of it and I really wish that the feeling was more sci-fi than Moroccan? It was that that made this novel original, although I suppose a mash-up of the two hasn’t been done before.
Amani was a nice solid heroine. Once she got past her circumstance she was determined to make a difference. I always like a heroine who doesn’t turn to mush when things get difficult. The Vathek is a conquering race who has subjugated the natives, slowly killing them off (sounds familiar to us Americans, doesn’t it?) and Amani wants to do her part to help stop them.
The evil Princess Maram, who’d had Amani kidnapped to be her stand in was the most interesting character. She was evil, anxious, and confused and her flaws made her interesting. As the story went on and we learned how sad her life was, she went from black and white 2D to full 3D technicolor. I wished that this book had been written from her POV instead of Amani’s.
Yes, there was also a love interest. Idris? Ilbis? I’ll be truthful, I couldn’t get Idris Elba out of my head and have smashed his name together in my head. Anyway, he was from one of the subjugated tribes, fated to be the sole survivor and marry the evil princess. Instead he hangs with her body double. You can guess what happens to that love triangle.
Did I love this book? No. Did I hate it? Definitely not! I just couldn’t get past some similarities to other novels I’d read and that kind of ruined it for me. If the pace had been a bit quicker, I might’ve enjoyed it a bit more. However, other readers have absolutely LOVED this novel. I say, read it and you be the judge!
I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.
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