Paperback ARC, 314 pages
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
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.
I have a lot of conflicting thoughts and feelings when it comes to Rebel of the Sands. There were sections that I really enjoyed, and other parts that I didn't. The aspects that I liked the most were the overall plot, Hamilton's writing style, and the characters. However, the mash-up of Western meets Arabian Nights didn't work for me and made the book feel awkward to read. At times, I felt emotionally disconnected from the characters and I couldn't always understand their motives or empathize with their feelings.
That being said, there were a few select characters that I adored, but they just didn't get enough page time. I'm a big lover of fantasy, and the fantasy elements in Rebel of the Sands were interesting, but I wish they had a more obvious presence at an earlier point in the novel. Overall, I'm interested to see what Alwyn has in store for her readers in the future, but I can't say that I would be desperate for the next installment in this series in particular.
1) Jin was a great character! He's sarcastic, cunning, and I found myself laughing during a lot of his scenes. Also, I have to admit that I was fond of how often he was without a shirt throughout this novel. Alwyn clearly knows what the people want to see xD
2) I really loved the side couple—Bahi and Shazad. They were adorable and had obvious chemistry. I wanted to know everything about these two—how they met, their entire history, everything—I GOTS TO KNOW!!
3) Alywn's writing is funny and witty, just like she is. She knows how to describe the lay of the land in a way that makes it easy to picture. Her dialogue is hilarious and infectious. You wish that you were sitting alongside the characters as the conversations are happening.
1) The fantasy elements in Rebel of the Sands were introduced very late in the novel. For the majority of the plot, you get a small taste of the magic, but it makes a big appearance at the end of the book. I wanted more magic throughout the novel, because the way it was fully introduced at the end felt more like an afterthought. There is an explanation in the last pages of Rebel of the Sands as to why magic shows up later, and I simply wasn't satisfied with it. It was just a little too convenient for me. Though I do go back and forth on whether or not I'm splitting hairs on this one, because on one hand, it could make sense, and other the other hand, I'm like..
3) The book ends at a really odd place. It's not a cliffhanger, but it just kind of drops off. This left me unsure of what to think or feel. I actually flipped the pages back and forth a couple times before I realized that what I saw was actually the end of the book.
"And you're still here?" Jin squinted at me, then started to laugh halfheartedly. "Either I'm dreaming or I'm dead."
I had to keep him talking. "Dream about me often?"
"Dreams. Nightmares. Not sure."
Shazad battered her eyes at him like we really were guests at a party. "You'll forgive me, have we met?"
His expression curdled. "Of course. I wouldn't expect the great general's only daughter to notice one of the Sultan's many sons. Though many of us noticed you."
"I noticed the sons that mattered." Shazad replied cooly.
"I was locked away in the Holy Order at the time," Bahi said with his mouth full. "Or I would have talked some sense into her."
"Would you like to tell her what you actually did when you got kicked out , or shall I?" Shazad said.
Bahi was suddenly very intent on his food. " I don't recall."
Shazad didn't miss a beat. "He got very drunk and turned up to serenade me outside my father's house."
I snorted a laugh. "What song?" I couldn't help but ask.
"I don't remember," Bahi muttered again.
"'Rumi and the Princess,' I think?" Shazad said.
"No." Bahi looked up defensively. "It was 'The Djinni and the Dev' and it was beautiful." He puffed out his chest as Shazad doubled over laughing.