Title: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Published: March 8th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Page Count: 314
Where’d I Get It: Purchase (ebook)
Rating: 4 stars
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.
I honestly wasn’t expecting a lot from this book. A lot of the time when a YA novel is loved by everyone, I tend to be the black sheep. I read it anyway. I got about halfway through and set it down because I found Jin to be insufferable and the plot wasn’t moving. Once I picked it back up, though, I finished over the course of the next couple hours.
Yeah, okay. It was good despite itself. Despite the love interest. Despite the Mary Sue surprise. It kept my interest and made me want more. When does the next one come out? Beginning of March? Okay, that’s not so bad. I probably would have thrown something if it wasn’t out until deep fall.
Our main character, Amani, lives in a desert kingdom, or like the desert outskirts of a kingdom? I wasn’t really sure there. Turns out setting a book down halfway through makes you a bit iffy on the historical details. She lives in a town that manufactures guns, and she herself is quite a good shot with a weapon. Attempting to use that to her advantage, she’s attempting to get out of her possible marriage to her uncle (ew), and a society that sees women as mere possessions of the men they live with.
A series of mishaps and one unlawful yet mysterious stranger later, Amani finds herself leaving town on the back of one of the sundry of mythical beasts that roam the desert. Jin, the accompanying stranger, annoyed me for the first half of the book. I was honestly immensely happy when Amani rid herself of him and trekked off on her own. There’s not many YA novels that would do that. Unfortunately, and where I basically rage quit the book, Jin just happened to catch up to her. I get it, there’s one train to anywhere cool, but having literally all of Amani’s conflicts on it at once got a little tedious.
Okay, now, after this point, the train escape and the endless desert wandering, is where the book gets good. We’re opened up to a whole slew of secondary characters all of who have tons more backstory and motivation than Jin. Jin’s backstory is a bit meh, but we’ve got a bad ass warrior woman and some half-Djinn children who can do sundries of magical feats. The jovial nature and jocularity of the group just made me love them all that much more. I mean, the ones who were involved. Those shape-shifting folks? Still have no idea if they do anything but hang around naked and shape shift.
The titled character, the Rebel Prince, had some motivation, but it wasn’t like that much motivation. Mostly it just seemed like whoops there’s a revolution. He even stated at one point that he got a tattoo one drunk evening and now it’s the symbol of the revolution. He seems to be very much in the middle of Katniss Everdeen face of the revolution avalanche, despite any wishes he might have had on his own. I mean, I don’t really understand the motivations of any of the factions in this book, really. There’s three of them and that doesn’t really help. I get that one is weirdly prejudiced against magic. Then the other two, meh? They want to be in charge or they want everyone to be happy? Is that right? I don’t know. It was all sort of flim-flam anyway.
Past this point, the book is a lot of twists and turns and random deaths. Even Amani being a surprise Mary Sue didn’t hurt the storyline all that much. It was presented in such a way that it worked out and made sense in the end.
One can only hope the second book keeps with the momentum of the last half of the first and doesn’t fall into the sophomore slump that I see so much with YA novels that are set as trilogies. Fingers crossed! I guess we’ll find out when we get to March.