Sunday, January 28, 2018

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands
(Rebel of the Sands #1)
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
Hardcover, 316 pages, Viking Books
Genres: YA, Fantasy

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.

My Review

A gun-slinging girl in a desert fantasy world sounds like a pretty fun read to me, so I don’t know why I put off reading this book for so long. That was a pretty big mistake on my part.

Amani is a strong female character who doesn’t want to live the life her small town has set out for her, and I don’t blame her for wanting better for herself. The people in her country are very sexist. But Amani can outshoot almost anyone, and that aspect combined with the rich desert world and a solid magic system make this book one hundred times better than any wild west cowboy story out there.

As for the main squeeze of the story, Jin is a good male protagonist/love interest. He’s the typical brooding, mysterious guy with a shady past, or so we think… I actually was surprised to learn who/what he was in later chapters. Also, his interactions with Amani are pleasantly charming, hilarious, and swoon-worthy 95% of the time. (There was a 5% time where he was just being rude, so I can’t give him all the props.)

Now, the plot of the book is where things get interesting for me. Because, while I loved the main characters, I have little to say about them. They’re great. End of story. The plot, though. Yeah. The first half was, like I’ve mentioned, a wild west/desert shoot-out set in a fantasy land. It was great! The second half of the book, though, kind of becomes more of a magical fantasy story. While I didn’t hate the second half of the book (I liked it well enough), I thought the atmosphere of the story really changed from the first half. I guess I just missed the tone I’d gotten used to on page one. Oh, I was also very shocked by the twist of events that happened in the second half. I totally wasn’t expecting any of that.

Even though the first and second parts of the book were different in tone and atmosphere, I still LOVED the book. I’ve already purchased a copy of the sequel, and I plan on reading it as soon as possible, especially now that book three is almost here.

All in all, if you love shoot-’em-up cowboy stories, fantasy tales, or, heck, even Aladdin, there’s a very high chance you’ll enjoy Rebel of the Sands.

*Note: I purchased a copy of this book for myself. This in no way affected my opinion/review.

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