Genre: YA, Fantasy
Source: purchased copy
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.
There is so much I loved about this book. The story begins with Amani – who is disguised as a boy – entering a bar to join a shooting competition in the hopes of winning some money so she can escape the home-town she never loved and the family that never really loved her. Here, at the bar, is where she meets Jin who is also competing for the money. They both have their own reasons for being there, but somehow their stories become intertwined as the story goes on. I instantly fell in love with Amani’s character; she’s sarcastic, stubborn, independent, and is determined to fight for what she wants but even as the story goes on, her character develops quite a bit and she becomes this stubborn girl who only has one goal – to get away, no matter what – to someone who actually begins to look out for those she cares about. Jin is described as ‘mysterious and handsome’ in the synopsis above and if you’ve read a lot of YA, you’ll know that most main male love interest characters are described in the same way, yet Jin is mysterious; it isn’t until about a third from the end that we actually learn more about him and it. is. crazy. I mean, I had my theories but… yeah, I was a little off.
The world-building was fantastic. The story gives us this desert mixed with cow-boy feel, and has a lot of magic! I love the magic in this book, with the Djinnis and the other ‘monsters’ we come across such as Nightmares which are as terrifying as they sound. I think the book was well-written, Alwyn Hamilton definitely knows how to weave an epic adventure, and I would read more right now if I could.
Now, the romance. The romance was so warm and fuzzy, and dammit I love Amani and Jin. I was instantly rooting for them and I feel like what makes or breaks a relationship is how realistic it feels – and their relationship, having bloomed from an unlikely friendship, definitely had me swooning. Another aspect I loved about this book is the action; there was so much action in this book, many fight scenes – I mean, what do you expect when a pistol is basically glued to Amani’s hand – and I was on the edge of my seat for like 95% of the story wondering if they’d even make it to the end.
Then, there was this PLOT TWIST at the end. And I know plot twist is just a way of saying a really HUGE development that no-one sees coming. And it’s there. Near the end. It hit me so hard and then I realised how idiotic I was for not realising sooner because the signs were all there! (If you’ve read Rebel of the Sands we must discuss!)
The story also had some feminism rooted in it here and there as it explored this world where women weren’t expected to do anything more than marry and were treated as their father’s commodity until they became their husband’s problem. Amani was undoubtedly one of the many girls who refused this and was determined to escape before she could be passed around like some rented mule, and I loved her for it. She showed strength and courage in a place where she was treated nothing more than dirt, and I think this was both inspiring and empowering.
I apologise for my babbling but I seriously am head over heels for Rebel of the Sands. I think what made me love it more is that I was forcing myself to read a book that I wasn’t really enjoying and when I picked up Rebel of the Sands to read instead, it reminded me that I’m meant to actually enjoy reading and I finished Rebel of the Sands in one sitting and then immediately regretted finishing it so quickly. Oh yeah, and did I mention that Rebel of the Sands will forever have a special place in my heart because not only was it such an amazing story, but it was the first time I’ve ever seen my name in a book? (Seriously, I’ve read hundreds of books and have seen nothing even remotely similar to my name).