Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
My rating: 4/5
Goodreads rating: 4.14/5
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Viking Books
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
So I didn’t know this book was going to be a trilogy and that fact just may sway my opinion on Rebel of the Sands. This book could of easily of been a standalone, but a duology wouldn’t of bothered me but a trilogy…anyway I’m going off topic. I did enjoy this book, surprisingly. I think I was in a strange, cynical mood while reading this book so I was all up for ripping it apart if I need to, but this book was pretty solid except for some minor things that I will discuss later on.
Rebel of the Sands follows Amani, a desert girl who wants to escape her too small, too restricting desert town. Her aim is perfect, tongue sharp and knows exactly where she wants to go, until a mysterious foreigner who is getting chased by soliders stumbles into her thoughts and heart. Tales around campfires suddenly become more real than she ever expected them to be and truths become uncovered and maybe the many grains of sand that Amani has known for all of her life might hold a deeper power.
The plot for this novel was very cleanly executed. Nothing was muddy or unclear and the plot delivered mostly. Though I think sometimes the pacing could be a little off and not enough excitement was injecting into the plot, it did interest me and I was curious about the characters and where they were heading. You really have to keep on reading to become entrapped within the book and actually care for the characters. The love story that they weaved in didn’t really bother me so much and some of the moments between Amani and the love interest were cute and I enjoyed reading them. I felt that there were many arcs put into this novel. Like every 75 pages there was another situation which felt like the be all and end all. This wasn’t a major issue, but when other arcs did come up, they didn’t feel as imapactful.
The book did finish on a cliffhanger which was expected as just before I finished the book I realised this obviously couldn’t be wrapped up in ten pages. The ending did light some fire into the story and I was a fan of how everything feel into place and there is a definite opening for a sequel.Overall, there were many scenes of action scattered about the place but they were normally linked by loads of pages of nothing particular which might have contributed to me feeling that there wasn’t enough fire.
The writing was really nice in this novel which is probably why I read on during the quiet moments of this book. How the desert is described is very vivid and fascinating even. You can really imagine yourself in the middle of all of that sand. Everything really was described very beautifully which is probably why I liked this book. The dialogue was also really excellent. A mention as well about how Hamilton weaved these kind of campfire tales into the plot and made them relevant- I loved how this not only helped with world building (which was sometimes lacking) but also made the reader understand some of Amani’s thoughts properly.
“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live.”
Hmm the characters in this novel were overall great but many of the supporting characters could of done with a lot more characterisation. They were given simple tag lines to make the reader know them and remember them but not truly care.
Amani was a cool protagonist. Sharp tongued and strong willed, she really carried this story with her and made it a little bit more unpredictable. Even though she has all of these amazing and entertaining qualities she still came off as being a bit…non-original. I did like her character, its just that she felt like every other YA protagonist if you looked close enough. Not enough about her made her a spark. Also and then there is kind of a plot twist with her character which I kind of liked but still proved me point on her being like every special female protagonist. Jin was an alright character as well, and I liked reading about him and knowing more about him as the story went on, but he didn’t feel like he was right on the dot as well.
What I liked:
- The descriptions were superb!
- The ending was very action packed and neatly done
- Overall, the plot was nicely done and clear.
What I disliked:
- The pacing could be a little bit off due to the quieter moments of the novel
- The supporting characters could of got a dollop of characterisation
- Protagonist felt not very original
Verdict: I did like this book. I really did. But some problems to do with plot, characters and world building did bring this book down to a solid four. But if you like the desert, sharp tongued protagonists and magic you might just love this book.