Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

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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 can’t believe this book has been sitting on my desk for MONTHS and I’ve only just gotten to it.

Rebel of the Sands is steeped in Middle Eastern mythology, with a distinctly ‘old Western’ feel. Right from the beginning there is so much detail and vivid world building that you are grounded in the setting without too much guess work. From the Sultim Trials to the Buraqis and Nightmares, it was the kind of book that I not only loved reading, but made me want to go and find out more.

All Amani wants is to get to Izman, and leave Dustwalk, and 99% of the people there, for dead. When a foreigner and a buraqi mysteriously show up in Dustwalk, she dons a disguise and gets the hell out of there. Amani and Jin journey across the sands from town to town, uncovering more and more unexplainable things. Amani knows Jin is hiding something, but she can’t help trusting him.

Amani is the MC, and she’s a gun-toting spark in a land of sand. This girl has so much sass it makes my mouth look tame, and was one of the things that drew me to her and convinced me this was an MC I could stick with for 300+ pages. She’s also hopelessly naive about the male-dominated world she leaves in which normally frustrates the hell out of me, but Amani is a fighter and she doesn’t let anything hold her back.

Jin is her partner-in-crime/love interest (like, duh! It took all of five seconds to pick this one) and he’s just as much fun as she is. Their banter is perfectly balanced and Amani proves right away she’s not going to let some pretty face get in the way of what she wants.

One of Hamilton’s gifts is writing strong side characters. And thank goodness because there were SO many mentioned that came in and out of the novel, yet I can remember everyone of them. The towns they visited were distinct and while the Middle Eastern names were foreign to me, I was able to keep all them all straight in my head.

This book, I felt, was leading towards two main reveals. One–to do with Jin–was obvious almost as soon as he was mentioned. I think just about anyone who’s read any YA book ever would have spotted that one. The other–involving Amani–was harder to pick. I’m not sure if I simply turned my brain off to it but really, there are a thousand and one hints throughout the book, so much so Hamilton might as well have bludgeoned me with them. Once it was revealed, and all the pieces slotted together, I felt like the most oblivious person ever.

I loved this book. So much. If you’re after an adventure with a bit of banter, chemistry, and a whole lot of mythological creatures you need to get in on this.

Can’t wait for book two.

AOaR_5star (3)

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Heather is brewing baby number two, working on book three, and trying to make Mr 20mo feel involved in both areas. Tweeting here


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