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The Mirage: A Novel

The Mirage: A Novel

3.5 18
by Matt Ruff

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11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijackfour jetliners. They fly two into theTigris & Euphrates World Trade Towersin Baghdad, and a third into the ArabDefense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourthplane, believed to be bound for Mecca, isbrought down by its passengers. The UnitedArab States declares a War on Terror. Arabianand Persian troops invade the

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Mirage 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
cwknight More than 1 year ago
Some have criticized The Mirage as being unbelievable, which to me is missing the point. Like Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, The Mirage is a story whose focus is the same-ness of people everywhere. I loved this book because it pulls no punches in its critique of the United States' behavior over the past decade. Unfortunately, the people who would benefit most from seeing the other side of things will probably never read this.
Alison_Pink More than 1 year ago
The Mirage tells an alternate version of history. Where the world is rocked by a terrorist attack on the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad on 11/9/01. The planes were hijacked by Christian fundamentalists from the Third World country of America. Years after the attack on the superpower, a homicide bomber is captured in the United Arab States (UAS) & questioned. He tells a strange story of a mirage. This mirage is one where the UAS is the super power & America is poor & broken. He argues that this is not true reality...that in the real world the USA is the super power & was attacked on 9/11 by Muslims. Gradually the Homeland Security officers in Arabia begin to unravel the story & start to believe this crazy bomber. The story is very well written & makes you stop & think without at doubt. At times it is humorous (The Quail Hunter from Crawford, TX who takes his enemies out on hunts & accidently shoots them or the crazy man in TX who is always looking for someone or something but can't seem to find it or remember who or what he's looking for or David Koresh leading the reisitance in America or Timothy McVeigh appearing as a protector to one of the invaders). This was well worth the time. The only reason it gets 4 stars from me is that it is a book you can't put down or read in small chunks. You need to read it straight through to keep everything straight, but it is well worth the time!
tottman More than 1 year ago
There’s an old adage that history is written by the victors. Matt Ruff expands and explores that idea in Mirage. Mirage is the story of a world in which Arabia is the superpower and the United States a third world backwater country. In this world, Christian fundamentalists fly planes into the Twin Towers of Baghdad on November 9, 2001 (11/9 vs. 9/11). The twists keep coming in this upside down world. Except some of the terrorists remember a different reality. One in which the United States is a superpower and the Arab world a backwater. And they have some artifacts from this reality that seem to back up their story. Mirage is told largely through the eyes of Arab Homeland Security Agents, mainly Mustafa al Baghdadi. He is tasked by the president to investigate the “mirage rumors”. There are people within the United Arab States who don’t want that to happen, as well as people who think their lives would be better in the mirage world. I enjoyed this book because if features interesting characters with interesting backstories. The concepts explored were also very intriguing. Are the seeds of violent fundamentalism always present in any religion? What circumstances cause them to come out? How might political alliances that we view as unshakeable change if they sprang from different circumstances? My criticism of the book is that the reverse parallels seemed a little overdone and at times seemed gimmicky. (11/9 vs 9/11, wikipedia vs. libraryofalexandria, etc.) The placement of prominent public figures on both sides of the conflict in roles they might play in the mirage world is well-done for the most part, although sometimes it seems unnecessary. The most enjoyable and identifiable characters are the fictional ones. Despite any criticisms, Mirage is a story that makes you think and keeps you engaged. The core concept is brilliant and the exploration of the alternate world is fascinating. The characters, especially the ones without real-world counterparts, are interesting and well-developed. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book. It is an enjoyable read that will stretch your mind. 3.5 stars.
prenoun More than 1 year ago
The best parts of Matt Ruff's alternate War on Terror world are when the story seems like a waking dream: characters sense their version of events is not quite the reality, yet the scenes are infused with details too vivid to be anything less. These parts, especially during the first half of the novel, open the reader's eyes to new perspectives on what Americans must think of as an unchangeable cultural moment. But, also as with a dream, the longer the novel goes on, the more gaps appear to make the story less effective, less believable, and less magical. It plays games with wild pairings that work only to make the characters whose world we wanted to believe in seem less believable themselves. The ending effectively explains "the mirage," but the second half of the book disappoints on a promise: that even a broken mirror can, through inversion and distortion, show us exactly who we are.
CRT More than 1 year ago
Let me start off by saying that I am a big fan of Matt Ruff's work. "A Fool on the Hill" and "Set This House In Order" are two of my all-time favorite novels. So, I was especially excited to read his newest book, "The Mirage". While I am not as enamored with this novel as I was with "Fool" or "House", I still got sucked into the plot and thoroughly enjoyed the read. It is filled with the plot twists and elements of fantasy that are characteristic of Ruff's writing. His alternative view of history is very interesting, and the portions of the book that discuss spirituality and religion actually offer quite a bit of fodder for deeper reflection. Though I didn't LOVE the book, I enjoyed it enough to recommend it to anyone who enjoys Ruff's other works, alternative history, or is just looking for a different kind of novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Bookshelf_Confessions More than 1 year ago
It’s amazing… I didn’t even think one could rewrite 9/11 in such a flawless way that’s really believable.. I could already imagine a movie for this. originally appeared on: Bookshelf Confessions I’m not so sure what to think of the book ---The book make me feel like I was about to read something unforgivable - It also almost turned me away because of its premise, but because Matt Ruff is really famous for BAD MONKEYS , I took the risk. It also makes me laugh in a way, that it’s really a twist.. there are: the UAS (United Arab States) instead of US, ABI (Arab Bureau of Investigation) instead of FBI, 11/9 instead of 9/11.. there are a lot more. And I wasn’t disappointed; I was in awe of how good that twist is, that I was actually beginning to think the world he created might be possible! Matt Ruff has created his own story out of history. I wouldn’t go more into the plot, but I assure you, it will keep you on edge--- thinking what would happen next. I was up all night reading and contemplating the events unfolding in front of me. At first it’s hard to get into the story, because the book is an alternate reality..it would really take some time for a reader, to fully grasp the concept and be familiar with it. But once I’m in terms with the characters, the place, I finally realized how complicated and how much time and thinking this book requires the author to complete it. And the result- is a very interesting plot that might be condemned by some but admired by many. The topic/theme of this book, is not easy, but if we just read the book as a work of fiction, let the author take us away from reality… then THE MIRAGE is really a brilliant one. The writing is very good, the Library at Alexandria (Wikipedia) is a good move to keep the reader up to date with the history, and the author’s right-in-time-humor is sufficient to make you stop and smile at the very concentrated moment,. He gives us enough details, enough to satisfy and make us curious altogether. The characters are all significant on the story. We could even see in the picture the infamous Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. I enjoyed the journey to the truth with Mustafa, the hero, how he finds out about the Mirage, and discover things he thought far from possible. The venue- Baghdad is totally different than we used to – it’s modern, with skyscrapers, modern culture, just think of anything that’s opposite. (Anyways, that’s what this book is.>:D). The author’s really good in describing the new face of the city, Mecca, every place in the story is a whole lot new than what we know, and yet, I could totally picture it. It’s vivid and complete. One drawback I guess, is the end. I was expecting it anyways, but I’m thinking that there might be something more ( I’m confusing you, I know--- but I have really confused feelings about the book… ) Last words: It’s amazing… I didn’t even think one could rewrite 9/11 in such a flawless way that’s really believable.. I could already imagine a movie for this.>:D Good book, good plot, lots of characters more than needed maybe, good writing style, and maybe with little changes on the details of the story in between and at the end, this would make it to the top-rated political thriller of 2012. (I’ve written quite long—but trust me, YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS BOOK!!!) Very highly recommended to everyone who enjoys action/mystery/sci-fi stories. I wouldn’t recommend this to children and culture-sensitive people, though.
TheOrbital More than 1 year ago
By now I'm sure you have read some of the other reviews of this book and have a fairly good understanding of the setting and plot, so I won't rehash what everyone else has already covered. What I will say is that I was pleasantly surprised by this book, and given its somewhat abrupt ending I would recommend it to anyone who enjoy alternate-history fiction or just a good sci-fi mystery. For some reason, I found myself comparing this book to the most recent season of the TV show 'Fringe', given it's development of the "alternate universe/over there" world that was introduced in Season 4. If you enjoyed that storyline in 'Fringe' you will definitely enjoy this book. I found the "Wikipedia" entries (called The Library of Alexandria in this book) on various subjects and characters incredibly entertaining, and some of the references to alternate-reality real world people made me laugh out loud. (There is a character introduced in the latter third of the story that absolutely cracked me up given the reference, but I will not spoil that for you - suffice to say that it is a very fitting name given). As I said above, I did enjoy the story despite it's somewhat abrupt ending; and it intrigued me enough that I checked out another one of Mr. Ruff's novels that was an equally great read: 'Bad Monkeys'
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The premise is brilliant. Flip 9/11 and the subsequent 00's - Christian fundamentalists from a balkanized America drive planes into cosmopolitian Baghdad's World Trade Towers. I was anticipating - or at least hoping for - a biting socio-political satire, like a few of the alternate world novels that came out of the Soviet bloc, or Vargas LLosa's "The Real Life of Alejandro Mehta"; or a lugubrious chess match between mind and reality like Philip K. Dick gave us, whom the B&N review references with "The Man in the High Castle". But for all it's imagination and clever and occasionally laugh-out-loud mirroring - the Muslim world's current hit rock album is Green Desert's "Arabian Idiot" - it is a heavily (i.e. unrealistically) plotted political "thriller", with winks to the reader aplenty, and despite some of its "still too soon" moments of gravitas, devolves into magical fantasy.
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Rob_Ballister More than 1 year ago
Matt Ruff's THE MIRAGE is an incredibly unique story where the post 9/11 world is seemingly turned inside out by a higher power looking to teach the arrogant United States a lesson. In this book, what we know as the United States is a collection of small, religious based nations constantly fighting each other, and the middle east is the world's true superpower. After fundamentalist Christians bring down the Arab world trade center on 11/9, the Arab superpower invades North America, and fights a long drawn out war against insurgents. But occasionally "artifacts" and other items pop up that show that the Arab-superpower world may not be what it seemed, and that there is an alternate reality where a United States is the superpower. Many of the post 9/11 players make appearances in the Mirage world. Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, Donald Rumsfeld, and even David Koresh all play roles. And a key theme is that while the world they may be a part of has changed, the fundamental nature of the particular person is the same in both worlds. A cold blooded manipulative killer is still a cold blooded manipulative killer; his victims are just different. I particularly liked the inserted "articles" from the "Library of Alexandria," which were modeled after Wikipedia articles and filled in some key gaps in the reader's understanding of the Mirage world. The book has plenty of action, and moves well. It introduces an element of fantasy when discussing how the Mirage was created in the first place, and why, and that did confuse me a bit, resulting in some re-reading. But overall, this was an enjoyable, thought-provoking fiction/fantasy thriller worth the time invested.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bought this book from BN Nook store. Will not run on Nook Tablet.... go figure. I want my money back.