Jess’ Reviews: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton April 11, 2016 – Posted in: Review – Tags: , ,

Last week, I found myself book-less at an airport. I had been tossing up whether or not to buy “Rebel of the Sands” for a few weeks prior, and after seeing it in the airport newsagent, I decided to grab it. The cover, very promising blurb and intriguing tagline, “A new dawn. A new desert”, drew me in immediately, and after devouring the first 100 pages during the flight, I was hooked.

“Rebel of the Sands” is the debut Young Adult novel of Alwyn Hamilton.

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 was incredibly satisfied to finally read about a young, female protagonist who can hold her own, protect herself and others around her and doesn’t feel the need to constantly seek male approval for her ideas and actions. Despite the little flame of romance between her and Jin, she holds true to her convictions and fights the sexism that her culture is steeped in. Amani is a very tough, feisty, badass chick. She has attitude and a smart mouth, but is determined, strong and compassionate. She risks her own life to save the lives of her family and friends. Amani is an incredible character who drew me in and really made me care about the plot. And oh, what a plot. I was swept away by the magic of Alwyn’s writing (and the actual magic that features in the novel), her beautiful creation of a fictional culture, mythology and religion and the intense chemistry she created between her main characters.

I would call “Rebel of the Sands” a magical, Middle Eastern-meets-Western, gun-slinging kind of novel, which isn’t really something you encounter everyday. It ticks the boxes for a fast-paced plot, action, adventure, strong characters and magic. I definitely can’t wait to see what is in store for Amani and her friends.