Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.
Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.
Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.
Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.
My rating: 3.5
This book was kind of an impulse buy and I didn’t read any reviews prior to reading it, so I kind of jumped in blind. Needless to say that made this book the best kind of surprise, as I ended up finding it to be a pretty fun read! Rebel of the Sands follows Amani, a gun-slinging orphan as she fights to leave the only town she’s ever known in search of a better life in the capitol of Miraji. Spurred by her desperation to leave, a chance encounter with a foreign traveler named Jin leads her to escape on a mythical horse, only to explore the rest of a desert she’s only ever heard stories about.
This book starts off promising; Amani is introduced gun-in-hand, prepared to beat a bunch of men in a shooting contest, all while disguised as a man herself. She knew that one day she would leave the town she was trapped in, and trained to make sure it would happen, while all her extended family wants is to see her married off. The land of sand once roamed and ruled by magical creatures, demons, and god-like Djinn is now controlled by the Sultan’s army, who is intent on suppressing rumors of the Rebel Prince.
The selling point of this book for me was the atmosphere that Hamilton creates. Miraji is a land of presumed Middle Eastern culture given a Wild West flair, which I felt in and of itself set it apart from a lot of recent YA novels. In that aspect I really liked the book, along with the characters. I love that Amani was so independent, trained herself to become a skilled shooter and fighter. She escaped from her town, knowing little of the outside world and nothing to fall back on, and I found myself really admiring this badass character.
As the story unraveled I found that I experienced several “detail blackouts” I guess you could call them, where the action was so fast paced that I got confused as to where the characters were or what they were doing. At some points during fight scenes, I was left wondering how certain events happened or how locations changed so quickly, finding it hard to follow the action.
While I felt that some of the reveals were predictable and had some issues with the pacing, I genuinely did like the book, and I’m definitely intrigued enough to read the sequel. Overall, I felt that this was a very fun debut book that has a lot of potential, and I’m excited to stick around and see where the story goes from here!