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The Mirage: A Novel Hardcover – February 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061976229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061976223
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #608,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Cult favorite Ruff’s past novels, including Fool on the Hill (1997) and Bad Monkeys (2007), are all wildly, thrillingly different, but they do share one recurring characteristic: they are total brain-twisters but in a good way. His latest is an alternate history that depicts the U.S. as a Third World country rent by religious strife, while the United Arab States are still reeling from the events of November 9, 2001, when Christian fundamentalists hijacked four planes and took down the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad. In this world, Osama bin Laden is a war hero and senator, while Timothy McVeigh is the revered leader of a rebellious Christian sect. Three Arab Homeland Security agents have their hands full, forced to deal not only with the duplicitous politics of various government agencies but also with suicide bombers and their recent claims that the world they are living in is a mirage. Like Robert Ferrigno in his Assassin trilogy, Ruff enthusiastically upends world history, offering provocative commentary while grounding his story with a highly appealing Muslim cast. --Joanne Wilkinson

Review

“A unique and compelling read.” (The Associated Press)

“Like Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, the premise behind Ruff’s alternate-history novel is chilling.” (The New York Post)

“An unnerving but intriguing premise forms the backbone of Matt Ruff’s latest novel, The Mirage, one of the most daring 9/11-inspired novels to emerge after that horrific day (The Seattle Times)

“Ruff embraces his twisty concept with an attention to detail that suggests many months, more likely years, of fervent research. . . . He is a world-class world builder who, perhaps better than any other writer, can create exotic, mysterious worlds and communicate their unique rules and consistent logics.” (The Stranger)

“A funhouse-mirror mash-up where H.G. Wells and Graham Greene collide with The Arabian Nights and The Matrix. . . . Ruff dizzies and dazzles the reader with a fantastic-and fantastical-story.” (BookPage)

“Sci-fi/fantasy/post-cyberpunk cult author Matt Ruff imagines an alternate world in which Arabia becomes the earth’s dominant superpower and America is a dictator-led, fundamentalist backwater. More than half the fun here comes from discovering all of the intricately clever consequences Ruff derives from that simple premise.” (Details)

“The alt-historical framework is in many ways the best and most entertaining part of the book, and you want it to expand beyond the mere 400 pages of The Mirage.” (Seattle Weekly)

“Furious entertainment. . . . It echoes Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union or Steven Barnes’s Lion’s Blood, but more comparisons will be made to Philip K. Dick’s World War II reimagining The Man in the High Castle.” (The Onion's AV Club)

“If you amalgamated the methodical, punctilious, world-building skills of Ian McDonald with the reality-distortion powers of Philip K. Dick and then folded in the satirical, take-no-prisoners savagery of Norman Spinrad, you might be able to produce a book approximating The Mirage.” (Barnes and Nobles Review)

“That The Mirage shares DNA with airport-kiosk genre exercises is nothing to be ashamed of. A good thriller is hard to pull off. The ingredients are clear enough: propulsive action, sympathetic characterization, and enough detail to ground the story without slowing things down.” (The Philadelphia City Paper)

“This book quite successfully challenges the ideas of Christian moral supremacy and the unchallenged political agenda of superpowers. It is a deeply satisfying novel which excites hopes of a long and productive career for this young writer.” (Examiner.com)

The Mirage is an intriguing addition to the genre . .. . Ruff spices up his tale with a wealth of arresting details. . . . Ruff keeps you reading, [out of] eagerness to see what twist he’ll think of next.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“An audacious new novel. . . . . The Mirage is a topsy-turvy tour de force, another winner from a truly inventive and unpredictable storyteller.” (The San Francisco Chronicle)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With its inspired premise, I can easily imagine that Matt Ruff's alternate history version of the 9/11 tragedy is sure to generate much interest. Upon reading the book's description, I was instantly intrigued and I tore into the novel with great anticipation. And, in truth, I devoured it in a couple of sittings--which is something that I rarely do. And yet, while I admired much about the book, I'm not sure that it ultimately fulfilled all of its potential and promises. Don't get me wrong, I'd recommend the book in a heartbeat just for its skewed world view, but the payoff lacked a bit for my taste. Ruff had big ambitions and paints a colorful world, and I wanted to love this book unequivocally. But while Ruff's vision entertained and fascinated me, it's whole falls somewhere short of the strength of its individual pieces. Part alternate history, part fantasy, part cop investigation, part political and social satire--there are a lot of disparate elements fighting for attention within the pages of "The Mirage." And while I enjoyed the separate components, I'm not sure they always sat comfortably together.

There's not a lot that one can say about "The Mirage" without revealing its surprises. So I'll be purposefully vague beyond a cursory description. The novel is set in the aftermath of a 11/9/2001 terrorist attack in the United Arab States. Ruff sets up an environment where everything that we know about our own 9/11 event is upended and relocated into this fictional time and place. The primary story revolves around agents within the Arab Homeland Security branch who thwart an attack in 2009 and recover some evidence that references an alternate timeline where America is a superpower and it was the victim of a 9/11 incident.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rich Stoehr on April 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
'The Mirage' is kind of like one of those movies that looks really good when you see the trailer, but ends up being something less than it could have been.

There's a core of a good idea here - a world flipped on its head from what we know, where the UAS (United Arab States) is the center of the civilized world and what we think of as America is a disorganized, chaotic assembly of warring factions reduced to third-world conditions. Terrorist attacks on the twin towers in Baghdad on 11/9 have had wide-reaching political effects, and mysterious artifacts begin to surface on the popular auction website eBazaar that suggest another reality - a mirage of a world we will find very familiar.

It's an ambitious idea, to be sure, and in some ways carried out well. Through the eyes of an Arab Homeland Security agent, a complex story unfolds and we see the world as it might have been. Familiar faces show up in new roles, a litany of name-dropping that becomes a little too much: Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh, and the list goes on. It makes sense for a while, but eventually it becomes a bit more than coincidence can explain.

The depth of the changes are fairly impressive too, and clearly a lot of thought went into causes and their probable effects. I enjoyed these touches, even as I felt Ruff was taking a bit too much time to explain them. He doesn't quite commit the sins of Dan Brown - bringing the story to a screeching halt to explain a simple concept at length - but 'The Mirage' does get bogged down in some places, especially early on.

Once the story picks up, its entertaining enough and has a reasonably good ending. The ideas alone carried me through the rough parts, but I never felt fully engaged by the characters or the story.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nickolas X. P. Sharps VINE VOICE on April 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
At first glance THE MIRAGE by Matt Ruff struck me as irreverent and offensive. I was offered a chance to read the book for free through the Amazon Vine program and I passed it up. A couple weeks later I ended up coming across a review of THE MIRAGE that made me pause and think. From there the desire was planted and I ended up purchasing a copy, reasoning that even if it turned out to be a terrible novel at least I could write a scathing condemnation of it. As it turns out, not only is THE MIRAGE an excellent novel, but it is also everything a thriller should be.

On November 9th, 2001 four jetliners are hijacked by Christian fundamentalists. Three find their targets: the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Centers and the Arab Defense Ministry. The passengers of the fourth prevent the terrorists from reaching Mecca. This attack ignites a War on Terror, led by the United Arab States. Years later Mustafa al Baghdadi, agent for Arab Homeland Security, captures a suicide bomber. The man claims that the world they are living in is a Mirage, and in the "real" world it is America that is a superpower and the Middle East that is a third world country. So begins a thrilling investigation that will uproot the very foundation of everything Mustafa knows and believes.

So you can see where I may have been a little hesitant to read THE MIRAGE. The very concept is audacious and twisted and more than a little intriguing. At first it seems like a delicious sort of heresy, an act of adolescent rebellion. As it turns out though, THE MIRAGE is anything but adolescent and heretical. Though bold and original, Ruff's thriller turns out to be introspective and thoughtful, and at times even humorous.
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