Rebel of the Sands

(Rebel of the Sands #1, By: Alwyn Hamilton)


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.

Published March 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers


I gave this book 4 stars. I instantly fell in love with the main character and enjoyed her fierce personality and how she drove action throughout the book. While I wished that there was more upfront world building, the fast paced plot and fun characters made this book a great read. 

Amani, the main character in this book was a complete hit for me. I loved that she was such a fierce girl in a world where girls had very little power and were taught to not value themselves. It was fun to watch her fight back against those norms like there wasn't any other way she could possibly live. 

With such a dominant main character, the plot flowed seamlessly as Amani drove the action and created conflict. It was fast paced and action packed which made it fun to read and kept me on my toes. The story concept was unique and mysterious and left the reader to discover the world organically through the characters. 

That being said, my biggest struggle with this book was the lack of upfront world building and explanation. Since the story was so unique, I needed a bit more reference to the myths and magic that ruled this world from the start. The magical aspects of the story got thrown in so casually at the beginning that I was left confused as to whether the author was speaking in metaphors, or if magic really did exist in this world. As the book continues, the author does throw in more stories about the legends and beliefs which helps, but she still never fully explains what types of creatures and/or magic we are dealing with. There are plenty of hints at it, but not enough concrete descriptions which left me confused. The same goes for the culture of the world. It gets described over time in the book, but it would have been nice to have more upfront explanation to ground myself in this world. If you can make it through the confusion, and stick with the story through the end you will find yourself with a better understanding and appreciation of the world, it just takes time.

One of my favorite aspects of this story was the way the main character had real flaws that she continued to struggle with throughout the story. She made mistakes, hurt people and had to work at making changes to redeem herself. It was refreshing and brought her back to earth, making her a real hero instead of an idealistic one. This was also true for the romance in the story. It wasn't simple, it was rocky and filled with different emotions which made it that much more mesmerizing. 

Finally, I really enjoyed how the book shifted from being about an individual finding her way through the world, to more of a group mentality. I can't wait to read the next installment in this series and continue to follow along with these characters. 





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