Book Review: The Mirage by Matt Ruff

Borrowed Book

***Spoilers possible***

I just finished reading The Mirage by Matt Ruff. It is an alternative history novel about world where a united Arab/Muslim state is the superpower and the United States is replaced by a handful of third world nations. In the world of The Mirage the World Trade Center attack happened in Baghdad.

The story follows three Homeland Security agents as they investigate suicide bomber and discover a larger plot. They find out the world is not want it appears to be and are driven to investigate because forces try to stop them. Not only do they have to worry about the terrorist, but also forces in their own government.

After you find out the world may be a Mirage the book really takes off. Ruff does a good job developing the three agents and their motivations. He spends a lot of time developing the world, at least the world of Baghdad and the United Arab States through the lives of these characters. I think that this gives some human emotion to some of the information that is being shared.

The other exposition device Ruff uses is a Wikipedia like website called The Library of Alexandria. I think he does a great job using this website to inform the readers. I loved reading the Library of Alexandria entries. The voice was just right. These pages really captured my imagination.

I enjoy Alternative History because I want to see how this world is different than our world. I love history and digging into what which historic events caused other historic events. Ruff does a good job of showing this world slowly. I love the ways things play out. I wanted to more about how this world is different. I wanted to know what happened in parts of the world not mentioned in the book.

The book did a good job pulling me in. It is a quick read and at after about 50 pages I could not put it down. It kept on making me want to know more. I think a book is a success when I just want to know what happens next. One afternoon I read the book for three hours without noticing the time pass.

I loved the first half of the book, but I am disappointed how the book played out once they got to America. When the main characters get to the Green Zone of Washington DC, they do an okay job describing Washington. I wanted to know more of how America developed in this world. I did not get a good feeling for America before or after the War on Terror. He did not describe the country side that well as they drove through Virgina. I wanted more here and I was underwhelmed when it was over.

Once they get back from the Green Zone. The book stumbles to an end. You can see the end coming, but it just falls flat. I am not sure the supernatural aspect of the ending fits well with the style of the rest of the book. I feel like he should have spent more time on the Jinn.

Even with a lackluster ending I still enjoyed this book. It is worth reading even if the book did not end so well. I would suggest reading this book to any of my friends.

I want to thank Lisa Eckstein for lending me this book. You can read about what she thinks about the Mirage on her blog.


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