Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Publication Date: March 8, 2016.
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers.
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, and Romance.
Selling points: Strong girls, incredible character development, and amazing setting.
Purchase here: Amazon | The Book Depository
Synopsis: 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.
Thank you, Faber and Faber Ltd, for my advanced review copy of Rebel of the Sands. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion.
Update 11/12 2016: Since I first read Rebel of the Sands in February I have learned that this book has a very problematic representation of middle eastern culture and people of color. I learned this from listening to multiple people pointing it out on Twitter, and I will in the future not recommend or promote this book in any way knowing it has hurt and/or offended people. I will keep my original review for transparency, but I no longer stand by what I thought before. If you’ve read this book because of my recommendation, I’m truly sorry. If you, like me, want to know more about what good representation in books is, I urge you to follow marginalized writers and reviewers on all social media platforms because they are constantly doing amazing, invaluable work, and deserve all the love and praise in the world.
Rebel of the Sands, where do I even begin with this masterpiece? I loved this story from beginning to end, there is no doubt about it and this debut is the book that should be on everyone’s shelf. I promise you with all of my heart you will love it.
There are so many aspects of Rebel of the Sands that I love but I’m going to highlight a few of my favorites. I absolutely love the main character Amani Al’Hiza who has the most incredible character development I’ve seen in a long time. She is born a girl in a world where girls are seen as something less, however, that never stops her from fighting. This is a constant all throughout the story, however, Amani’s growth is about so much more than that. She went from being a girl who only looked after herself to someone who took care of her own and also decided to fight for something bigger.
The next part I love about Rebel of the Sands is the romance and the otp. The otp truly is amazing and even though the romance is secondary it’s perfectly executed and I literally die for these two. Please give me more I say. Their love is so electric, and it will make you swoon. This is also what brings us to another thing I love about Rebel of the Sands, the plot twists. I’m not going to say a word about what they are but damn I didn’t see them coming and I think I was in shock there for a moment when I realized how it is all connected. So incredibly good, so amazing.
Then we have the setting that is absolutely beautiful, vivid and perfect. The setting is not western which is something I really appreciate. This world Alwyn Hamilton has created is so detailed and rich in its own mythology, religion, and norms and I just love that. I also adore how this book is set in the desert, and how detailed the entire nation and environment is described.
Rebels of the Sands and its characters also shows us that girls can be strong, they don’t have to have special powers yet they can still be twice the man. They can fight better, be stronger and be braver than any man and they are not any less because of their gender. This is a giant plus in my book. I also really appreciate the complex relationships between the female characters which I won’t go into too much of the details. Nevertheless, it has to be said that there will be so many secondary characters you will grow to love, to hate, and some you will have no idea what to feel. However, that is the magic of it all. To read the story and find out.