Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton (2016)
YA Fiction | Fantasy
“Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.
Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.
Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.
Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.”
pooled ink Review:
YA Fantasy books are generally my weakness but not all of them can be knockouts. Rebel of the Sands was a good book; it just didn’t win my heart. I consider this book a DNF because although I did actually make it to the end it was largely through skimming which in my opinion doesn’t really count.
I did like Amani for the most part, she reminded me of Saba from Blood Red Road a bit with her fierceness and determination to survive. But I’m clearly too trusting (or I’ve read too many books) because I probably would have heard Jin out sooner, which might have saved a lot of people some trouble with soldiers, but it also wouldn’t have been as interesting.
Jin was a good character as well. He was funny, surprising, clever, and fierce. Not to mention he wears a smile full of secrets.
The world crafted for this story is a bit like a classic Western set in the Middle East with a whole layer of ancient powers and magic waiting beneath the desert sands. This fictional world managed to feel both familiar and new, which makes you almost wonder if it could be real somewhere (I love when books do that). What lost me, I think, was the pacing of the plot. It was rather jolting and jumbled, only keeping my attention in bursts, and it also failed to plant a seed of connection between the central characters and myself.
The opening of this book was epic and so perfect. I was immediately drawn in and wondering why it had taken me so long to pick up this book. Unfortunately the excitement and intrigue had a lot of ups and downs. While at first I was completely hooked, I quickly grew disinterested until every once in a while something exciting happened again that would temporarily peak my interest. The ending is pretty intense and leaves you on a cliffhanger for what will happen next, so that was exciting, but when the strongest parts are the beginning and ending then what was the middle part for?
Really I just think the pacing needed some work. You meet a lot of characters, and many of them are tossed in towards the end. Sometimes it felt like too much time was spent on insignificant moments while not enough was spent on the interesting ones. I liked Amani and Jin, but my heart doesn’t daydream about them or their world like it has with other characters/stories (granted this happens with very few books/series).
I’ve heard so many good things about this book and in a way I agree that they’re true. This book is full of vivid scenes, intense action, teasing romance, epic throw-downs, and the mystery of an ancient magic. All of this had me really excited to read but there simply wasn’t that special something that connects me to a book or leaves a lasting impression. I’m confused as to why because it really was filled with some great stuff and is rather unique, but despite the action and plot twists and magic, for me it was all a bit forgettable.
Overall I enjoyed this book while reading it, but it didn’t call to me when I wasn’t.
P.S. How epic does Amani look on the cover? I’ve told you all before how I’m almost never a fan of people on book covers, but her eyes are so piercing and she just looks so badass that it was the main reason I picked this book off the shelf. Can I please wear her outfit around for my daily life? Haha 😉 But seriously, she looks fierce.
Purchase here: Rebel of the Sands
Meet Alwyn Hamilton!
Alwyn Hamilton was born in Toronto and spent her childhood bouncing between Europe and Canada until her parents settled in France. She grew up in a small town there, which might have compelled her to burst randomly into the opening song from Beauty and the Beast were it not for her total tone-deafness. She instead attempted to read and write her way to new places and developed a weakness for fantasy and cross-dressing heroines. She left France for Cambridge University to study History of Art at King’s College, and then to London where she became indentured to an auction house. She has a bad habit of acquiring more hardcovers than is smart for someone who moves house quite so often.