Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Posted 10 March, 2016 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | Review | 5 Comments

Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn HamiltonRebel of the Sands Published by Penguin on March 8, 2016
Genres: YA Fantasy
Pages: 320

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.

Is it just me or is there a ton of really freakin’ awesome Western-style stories coming out this year? This story was a high-five read for me (a self high-five, as no one besides internet friends has read this book). While there was a wild, wild West feel to this story, there were also sweeping Middle Eastern elements all pulled together to create a truly amazing young adult fantasy.

The main character, Amani, is determined to get out of Dustwalk, the teeny desert town in which she lives. If she doesn’t, her uncle will marry her off (or marry her himself) because that’s what happens to girls in this little part of the world. But Amani wants more.

Then she meets Jin at a shooting contest (which she snuck out to enter. Rebellious girl.), a mysterious and cute boy who might very well be the key to her escape. The sparks fly immediately and, as the barrel from one disaster to another, they group up to make it across the desert to their destinations (which start out different but, as stories go, wind up being along the same path).

While the twists (especially Amani’s twist) aren’t so very twisty, I was too caught up in the story to really notice that I’d already expected those particular things to happen. What’s more, this story is a debut! Holy cow. That makes this story all the more impressive.

The writing’s gorgeous, filled with endlessly sand-filled deserts, tall Scheherazade-style stories, mythical beasts and magic. If you’re looking for a fantastic fantasy, this story will fit the bill.

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