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Thursday, July 06, 2017

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Hardcover: 314 pages
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Release date: March 8, 2016

Series:  Rebel of the Sands, #1

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

In a magical desert where myth and legend blur into reality, orphaned Amani is determined to finally make her way out of the dead-end town of Dustwalk forever where her only choices are to marry or die. Masquerading as a mysterious male sharpshooter, she joins in a contest to beat the local champion with her skill with a gun. She almost manages to win against the champion and an intriguing foreigner to gain her fortune (and potential freedom) until a fire starts and she must flee or risk being discovered for a girl. Upon later meeting the stranger, Jin, as he is being hunted by the Sultan's soldiers who are there putting down threats of rebellion nearby, Amani helps Jin hide. When she is identified as having associated with the potential rebel, the soldiers threaten and shoot her best friend Tamid, a cripple. Luckily Jin comes to her rescue with her recently captured Buraqi, an impossibly fast desert horse spirit. She and Jin flee through the desert, but Amani is set on going to Izman to find her aunt. She drugs Jin, escaping to take a train to the city, but discovers more of the Sultan's soldiers. Luckily, Jin has followed her and together they escape again, this time Amani throwing her lot in with Jin, traveling with him until she can make her way to Izman safely. However, the future holds other plans as they come across a destroyed city, a new magic, and a deadly plan by the Sultan and his army to kill more than just rebels...

I'm so glad I picked this book up! I loved it! It creatively blends Arabic legend, fantasy, romance, adventure, and some good old-fashioned gunslinging with a hint of steampunk.

Amani is a fierce heroine, one who will desperately fight for her survival and a better life even if it means dying for it. She is immediately likable for her sheer grit and attitude. Amani is being raised by her aunt and uncle, unwillingly, because when she was younger, her mother tried to kill her adopted father and set fire to their house and was shamefully hanged in consequence. Now, Amani is approaching the end of her mother's mourning and will be forced to marry. This act carries echoes of Middle Eastern culture where young girls are given (or taken) as brides for much older men, much like Amani's uncle threatens to do to her. Instead, Amani dreams of escaping to Izman like her aunt Safiyah.

When she meets the mysterious Jin, there is also a rebellion occurring. Before the story, the Sultan held a contest called the Sultim for his sons to compete to see who would be his heir. Rumors abound about what actually happened, but the Rebel Prince Ahmed, the son who had disappeared fifteen years earlier, supposedly appeared to compete and afterward began a rebellion to challenge his father's rule. Why? The Sultan has indebted the country to the nearby Gallans and many of his people currently suffer under their greed, cruelty, and oppression of their beliefs. Jin is suspected to be part of the rebellion, and as a result, Amani becomes swept up, especially when she is faced with saving his life or allowing him to die in the desert.

In their time together, Jin's and Amani's unlikely dependence on each other has created somewhat of a romance. Amani, an orphan who has only lived this long with a cripple for a friend, has finally discovered someone who sees her as a capable, brave person. She and Jin have formed a bond of trust in their escape and this mutual trust has also left room open for other feelings which comes to a head when Jin is gravely injured.

I'm not going to talk about the latter end of the book here as it reveals some big plot points! It is very clean, much like Rae Carson's books. I found this book to be so addictive! I couldn't put it down once I started. I'll talk about some of the magic and plot developments when I cover book two, Traitor to the Throne. This was possibly one of my favorite reads so far this year!

Kara is a teen librarian living in the southeastern US with her husband (who listens to books), young daughter (who sleeps with books), and dog (who tastes the books). She loves all sorts of books, but mostly YA, and will never catch up to all of the wonderful things to read.

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