My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: August 28th, 2018
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, War, Romance, Feminism, Royalty, Culture
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.
A book, for me, can have a thousand tropes, but as long as it has this one specific element, it can be a thousand times glorious.
I don’t want to read a dull story. I don’t want to not feel anything. I want to be moved to ugly tears and be made so angry I can’t move my limbs and fumble with my words.
This was one intense book and, unsurprisingly, character-driven. Intensity is not brought to life by objects; it is created by people who feel, see, hear, touch and taste.
Who have personalities. Who shake things up. Who create or solve conflict. Who have a purpose and a goal. Who dream and fail, and rise and fall and, above everything, who attempt to conquer over their fears, their enemies, their inside voices telling them they are nothing and can achieve even less.
Such voices reside inside Amani. After all, she is just a village girl who was never meant for greatness. But change is knocking at her door in the form of a cruel princess who both needs and despises Amani and, to survive, she must learn to harness the power within herself.
You know what else I need in a novel? I need characters who are not as they appear. I like being surprised to the point of clutching my chest and swallowing mosquitoes. Not a pretty picture, I admit, but I don’t need pretty. I want to feel what I don’t want to feel and react in ways that I don’t every hour of the day.
We have that here. There is a heroine and an anti-heroine, each undergoing a character-development and putting our hearts and minds to the test. They challenge our prejudices and dare us to see beyond what is shown to us. Not everything is as it seems. And sometimes a strong woman is misunderstood for a straight out villain.
This is everything I wanted and more. A bit on the slow side, but definitely a tale that makes me wants to trade one of my all-time favourite books for the sequel. Anyone wants a copy of Captive Prince in exchange for book two? I’m mainly addressing the author’s computer.
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