Title /Author: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Publisher: Viking Books
Summary: 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 have a lot of thoughts on this book. Half of it I LOVED, the other half.. could use a little work?
Something I really, really loved:
The characters were definitely my favorite part of the book. Amani’s GRIT and her determination were HELLA RAD, and I really felt like I understood her; she felt very real. And Jin… well, I mean, if he just wants to marry me, I would totally be cool with that 😉 I actually wish we had gotten to see even farther into his life and his emotions, who he was, because he is such a fascinating character (and hella hot). Hopefully we’ll get a lot more of him in the second book. 🙂
I also really enjoyed the sense of adventure and discovery that came with this book. There were so many things to learn about the world: the legends, the stories, the magic, the mythical creatures. The throwing point for me was that I wasn’t absolutely blown off of my feet by it like I wanted to be. I find books that take place in the desert so fascinating and rich in culture because they’re (obviously) so different from American suburbs, but something about this book seemed to hit just a tiny bit left of the bullseye for me.
Let’s talk about the romance. At first, it was spectacular…. but, I thought there would be more? Funnily enough, though the first half of the story lacked plot and a clear direction, that was the part I enjoyed the most. It was Jin and Amani’s story, how they journeyed across the desert together and formed this great connection. But I feel like in the second part of the book, some of that connection was lost. The story takes a sharp turned from completely relying on the characters to having the “real plot” introduced, and I feel like because of this, and huge part of their relationship was lost.
In the beginning of the book, Jin and Amani gradually grew together, but in the second part, I almost felt like they were being forced together. What happened to all the chemistry I felt in the first part of the book? Jin got lost to the reader amidst the new characters being introduced and new settings that were thrown at us. He seemed barely present in the second half of the book, and I wanted to keep that connection I felt with him and learn more about his emotions.
Some other areas I feel could have been improved upon:
The setting was so interesting, but I feel like we could have used some more context to either outside lands, or some sort of map to help us get our bearings, especially since Amani travels so much in this book. It would be cool to be able to get our bearings of the place where Amani lives! (Or is this just me being a needy bookworm? haha.)
Also, some of the story-telling of myths and legends felt like info-dumps: the author needed us to know backstory, so it was told to us through a campfire story. In some cases, some books, I don’t mind this, but 9 out of 10 times ‘story time’ turns into ‘let’s dump a buttload of info onto the reader.’ *cough The Love That Split the World cough* Thankfully, this only happened a few times within the book, so it was manageable, and the stories were interesting (for the most part), so I didn’t mind it.
One the positive, AWESOME side, the book had a couple twists and turns that I definitely didn’t see coming. In the world Amani lives in, there are mythical creatures (by far one of the coolest aspects of the book), and there are also those beasts’ children, called the Demji. I found it a really, really cool and plot-point that the Demji in this story physically can’t lie. It was actually quite refreshing to read a book where the main character isn’t constantly whining on and on and on about feelings he/she is denying, etc.
Rebel of the Sands is definitely a solid 3.75/5 stars, with a whole lot of potential for the next book in the series, although not as memorable or fantabulous as I had hoped. 🙂