Book Review: Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Published March 2016 by Viking Books For Young Readers|320 pages
Where I Got It: I borrowed the e-book from the library
Series: Rebel Of The Sands #1
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.
I liked Rebel Of The Sands! Not as much as I thought, but I still liked it.
I do like that it’s a fantasy that’s set in the Middle East instead of Europe. You really get the sense that Amani is in a place that barren and dusty, and I did get a Western feel from the book. Maybe it’s the shoot-outs and the fact that Amani feels more like a cowgirl than a girl who wants to leave Dustwalk. It really is a mix of Middle Eastern fantasy meets Western, but decidedly more Western than anything else, and for most of the book, I tended to forget the setting.
It had the potential to be a lot more unique. I thought there would be more magic and magical horses and dijnn, and they don’t show up until later on the book, so it’s not really the fantasy I expected. I wish they were more obvious early on in the book, and that it was more defined, because it really wasn’t in this book. Maybe that’s why it read more as a Western than a fantasy. It did make me feel distanced from the characters, and I spent a good part of the book waiting for something interesting to happen, because things are pretty slow for a lot of the book. There’s a lot of traveling once Amani leaves Dustwalk.
It seemed like the first half of the book was paced pretty well, even if it seems like things moved slowly, but after that, it feels like things were rushed and not really developed. Which is weird, because that’s sort of when the book gets good.
I did like the ending, though! It didn’t end on a cliffhanger, which was actually nice, because it ends with the idea that there are bigger things happening in Amani’s world than what we see. It was open-ended in a way, and you don’t know exactly where things are headed but you know there’s something going down.
I’ll probably read the next book just to see what happens, but I won’t be rushing to read it either.
3 stars. I did like the magic in Rebel In The Sands, but it felt more like a Western with hints of fantasy instead of an actual fantasy.