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Rebel of the Sands Review

Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands, #1)Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Allow me to gush for a moment. I adored Rebel of the Sands and felt like it was a breath of fresh air compared to other stagnant YA plot lines. Let me tell you what I loved about Alwyn Hamilton’s debut novel.
We meet Amani, a girl from Dustwalk, a town at the end of her country’s vast desert, with a sharp tongue and dreams of escape. She is willing to sacrifice everything to obtain it. Amani, with her eyes like the bright blue of midday, enters a shooting contest in the neighboring town dressed as a man to win the money she needs for her getaway. She’s dubbed the Blue-Eyed Bandit. By chance, she meets another competitor, the Eastern Snake, and together they face down inevitable defeat. The competition is rigged and they narrowly escape with their life when chaos erupts. Amani leaves him in the sands and returns home before being caught.
When the Sultan’s army and their occupiers show up in Dustwalk looking for a traitor who was last seen at the bar where a brawl broke out, they look to Amani for the answer, her blue eyes betraying her secret.
She’s punished and forced to reveal truths that she doesn’t know. Before they can kill her and those she cares for, the Eastern Snake shows up and whisks her away on the back of a mythical sand creature.
The rest of the story is riddled with chance encounters and narrow escapes, with the gunfire and magic, with soldiers and rebels.
The setting is a mix of the western and middle east. A land of its own and I enjoyed the world-building. Because come on, its fantasy where anything can be anything. I know some had a problem with this world building but it felt authentic on its own. The beginning is a bit slow but not enough that I would want to put it down.
Yes, this is another story where our heroine is destined to do great things with a magic power she yet knows she possesses. Sounds a bit cliché, but this book is anything but.
What I really love about this story is Amani’s journey and her decisions which are based on her morals, her humanity, and the skills she possesses as a woman and trained gunman. Her story does not revolve around some new found magic that dictates her every move. She relies on the Eastern Snake, also known as Jin who has a few secrets of his own, to guide them through one disaster after another until they find refuge. It isn’t until ¾ of the way through that Amani becomes aware that she’s not just a girl with good aim and unlikely blue eyes against her sunbaked skin. She doesn’t even know the true power she’s capable of until the climax of the story.
This book enchanted me from the first sentence, through all the plot twists, up until the very end, and left me yearning for more. I recently reread it in anticipation of the sequel and to find out if it was as good as I remember. Hell, yes it was and even more so.
Love YA novels but think their plotlines are dried up and redundant? I urge you to consider Rebel of the Sands as your next read!

View all my reviews

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