Published: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 314 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 3.5/5.0
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.
After what felt like SOOO long, I finally got to read this gorgeous book! I have to say, it was really enjoyable and I really dig the whole western gunslinger/desert djinni vibe that this book evoked. It seems to be trending in YA lit right now, and I look forward to reading some more books with a similar cultural theme- it’s different and new. Now you may ask, was the story as gorgeous as the cover? Well, read on and see!
I liked the main character Amani- she was pretty crazy and flaunted cultural norms by going on wild nighttime escapades dressed like a boy. Her eyes were set on the distant city of Izman and she couldn’t think of anything other than escaping her oppressive hometown. These thoughts lead her on quite the adventure and she gets mixed up with a mysterious foreigner named Jin, who’s also quite the shot. Jin was an interesting fellow and he mostly tolerated all of Amani’s ploys, plots, and antics. Both characters were simply exhausting with the amount of trouble they could find themselves in.
As you can probably guess from the descriptions of the characters, there was never a dull moment in this story. The plot varied greatly- a girl who wants to escape a dead end, a rebellion against the current regime… wild stuff. The escalation of the plot itself was practically logarithmic. This was in large part due to the fact the story skips over several months of dull travelling and goes straight to the heart of the action, which I can appreciate. I didn’t sign up for pedestrian descriptions of each and every day marching through the desert with a caravan and I’m glad that the author chose to fast forward through the travel.
I enjoyed this story and it was a quick, fun read. I would say that fans of An Ember in the Ashes would enjoy this as the setting is somewhat similar and there’s a nice mythological overlap between the two books. I will say that for me at least this book isn’t all that memorable- it’s been a couple days since I finished and I couldn’t remember the main characters name without looking at the book. It’s certainly very aesthetically pleasing and I think it has the potential to be a strong series, provided that the following books have a somewhat stronger story arc. There were also some events toward the end that were just out of nowhere and didn’t feel like they flowed all that well with previous events. All in all, the book was good and I’d recommend it for light reading.