|Review| Rebel of the Sands

Rebel of the Sands – Rebel of the Sands #1
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Pages: 316
Publisher: Viking

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 looking for books that used a bit of different mythologies lately and, when I found out all this arabic culture side, I got very interested. Especially when I learned that this book had a couple of different elements attached to it.

The book tells the story of Amani, and orphan who lives in Dustwalk, a dead-end town in the middle of the desert famous for being very poor and violent. Because of that, the girl has learned pretty early how to shoot very well and have a perfect aim. However, being stuck in this situation, Amani decides to follow her dream to escape to one of the big cities that always appeared in her mother’s tales when she was younger.

Trying to escape Dustwalk, Amani dresses as a boy and enrolls in a shooting competition to win enough money for a train ticket. During the competition, a stranger protests in favour of the rebel prince Ahmed and the whole place becomes a big mess. Getting out of there with the help of a foreigner who was also one of the competitors, Jin, Amani sees her life turn upside down and everything that had always seemed so certain in her life is going to be put to the test.

You’re a good liar. For someone who doesn’t lie.

All this combined with a world at war for power and the little magic that still remains. Amani will go through many adventures, meet completely different people from her and even contact magical beings that she had never seen outside of tales told in her town.

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The strongest part of the narrative was definitely all this scenario created. Besides using the desert and a great part of arabic culture, the author had the brilliant idea of using western elements in the same world. The fact that Amani is a great shooter and that guns are the main weapon in battle seems like it would never match an arabic society, but weirdly enough, it became the perfect match of elements!

Compared to other young adult fantasies, I have to admit that one of the strengths of this book is that is a very quick read. Even though it’s a fantasy and, as such, it’s expected to have many long and slower descriptions, this book escapes the standard and goes perfectly to an audience that might not be such a huge fan of classical fantasy and prefers something more modern.

I thought the book had a lot of potencial, especially for using so many topics with great public discussions, such as social differences, religious wars and the role of women in society – which, in this case, is the lowest possible. However, I didn’t think that the main character was strong enough to become a movement leader or go against all these debates. She, in fact, seemed more willing to run from it all that to properly make a difference.

I’d near forgotten what it felt like to be a girl in Miraji. I was inconspicuous, but not the same way I’d been as a boy. Not because I was the same as everyone else. Because I didn’t matter.

Actually, my biggest problem with this book was the main character. I’d thought that Amani would have began the book as a woman oppressed by society and, because of her social status, would find a way to rise within all this problem. However, all I got the whole time was her running away from everything and everyone without even thinking about how her actions would affect her own friends. Besides, all the development and growth that I expected she would have were only impulsed by other characters and never by herself.

I also entered the book hoping it would be a standalone, but I found out that it’s only the first in a series – another that that demotivated me; where are all the standalones in this big bad world, guys?

However, having made my due critics, we need to stop for a couple of minutes to analyse how PRETTY and GORGEOUS this cover is. I confess this was one of the motives that attracted me to this book and I’m not even sorry to say it haha

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I know the majority of readers have this devastating passion for this book, but unfortunately I didn’t find it innovative – I seem to have the same problem with the Red Queen. Though I didn’t fall completely in love with this book, it’s certainly a fast read and great for those looking for a young adult or a fantasy book to pass the time.

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