Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Rating: 3.5 Stars
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 really enjoyed this! The book’s setting is very unique and creative, and it was definitely my favorite part of the book. I liked how Arabian culture and folklore and the sandy, desert landscape combined with the Western elements, like holdups, trains, and lots and lots of guns. I do think that some readers might feel differently, however. This setting is very unusual, and I could see how it might feel weird or out of place. Honestly, I was really surprised at how well I liked the blending of two cultures, because it didn’t really seem like something I would like. But luckily, it worked really well for me.
I also thought the basic plot was fun. The book is very fast-paced, and there is a lot of action. It was very entertaining, and I liked how more Middle Eastern myth, such as Djinni, was added to the book. I do wish the Djinni could have played more of a part in the story, but maybe they will in the next book.
I felt like the characters could have been better developed, though. I really liked Amani as a narrator and she had a fun personality. But while I liked her, and connected well with her, I didn’t feel like I actually knew much about her. And then her character was killed by a severe case of instalove, which destroyed most of the ambitions and personality she had. Her focus changed from changing her life to fighting in a rebellion, and while this wasn’t a bad change, it did feel a bit abrupt.
The other characters were a lot of fun too, and I especially liked Jin, the resident love interest, even though he had literally no character development. But you know a guy is a perfect book boyfriend when he has no personality and you still swoon over him. #priorities.
I did not like the instalove at all, but that is pretty much to be expected in YA.
So, Rebel of the Sands wasn’t the most compelling book ever, but it was definitely entertaining and creative, and I had a ton of fun reading about it.
Have you read this book? Do you think you will read it? What are your thoughts on combining classic Western with Arabian desert culture? Or other cultural/setting blends?