TITLE: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands # 1)
AUTHOR: Alwyn Hamilton
GENRES: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance
PUBLISHER: Viking Books for Young Readers
DATE READ: April 9, 2016
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.
“A New Dawn! A New Desert!”
3.5 Rebel Sands!
This was a good debut novel written by Alwyn Hamilton. Though I have issues with some of the elements of the story, nevertheless, it was reassuring enough that the second book could be so much more interesting.
Rebel of the Sands has a unique setting that is not the usual norm for historical fantasy fiction which is medieval Europe vibe. It is set in the Middle Eastern desert with djinnis (people who practice magic), mythical horses, a tyrannic Sultan who conspired with cruel foreign soldiers called the Gallan Army and allowed them to inhabit the whole country of Miraji.
In the midst of a possible uprising led by a rebel prince, there comes a girl named Amani Al’Hiza who was born and grew up in a dead-end town, Dustwalk. We first met her in a gun shooting competition where she disguised as a boy in hopes of winning the prized money that she would use in order to escape her cul-de sac town and her uncle who wanted to marry her. She had a one escape route in mind. Flee to Izman. A place where she could start a new life and discover who she wanted to be. In the competition, she met a mysterious foreigner named Jin and suddenly their fates intertwined and Amani finds herself in the middle of trying to get to Izman and being part of a rebellion against the tyrannic Sultan. And in this journey, she found out that she also possess an ability which is destined for something big and indeed, the fate of the desert lies in her.
This book was enticing enough for me to read ’til the end. It has the exciting elements that you’re looking for a fantasy novel. Unique setting, a not-so-annoying protagonist whose POV won’t make you cringe with annoyance. Though this book started out so good, I have to admit that it became a little bit dull toward the middle. The whole ordeal of the rebellion become like a grand scheme of things which was not so big if you would compare it to other books that have rebellion plots. Some of the characters felt flat and I only found myself attached to only 3 or 4 of them but not to all of them. Amani’s journey across the desert was far more enjoyable to read than her stay in the rebel prince’s keep. That part felt so blunt and rushed.
The idea of having special group of humans with special set of abilities that serve as the only hope for the future, kind of felt redundant to me now. Most fantasy stories are like that these days and I wanted some more. I wanted a whole new plot that can offer a reader an endless of exciting events that are so distinct or maybe dynamic. I’m not saying that this book is not good, but I just had that feeling while I was reading it. “I’ve read this kind of thing before.” “This is quite similar to this and that.”
But what I admire with this book is that it stayed true to its purpose. When the author Alwyn Hamilton said that the fate of the desert lies with Amani, the story proved it. Amani’s ability impressed me and despite of some of my comments above, I like her as a main character. Even without her abilities, she is a skilled human with superb sharpshooting skills.
As for the romance, I don’t think I am a fan of it. I didn’t feelthe chemistry between them when they were in the rebel prince’s keep. Though I enjoyed their journey together in the desert, it’s still not enough for me to fangirl with them.
All in all, this wasn’t a perfect book but it’s promising and I’ll still anticipate to read the sequel which comes out on 2017. A long wait again. But I can manage.
PS: The cover was indeed beautiful. #Coverlove 😀
MY STAR RATING:
QOTD: What’s your favorite debut novel?
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