Book: “Rebel of the Sands” by Alwyn Hamiton
Publishing Info: Viking Books for Young Readers, March 2016
Where Did I Get this Book: from the publisher!
Book Description: “Arabian Nights” meets “Mockingjay” in a world unlike any you’ve ever seen before!
Review: I am so excited to participate in this blog tour! Not only because I simply love blog tours (following them, being in them, whatever!), but because of the book that I got to read for this one. “Rebel of Sands” is one of those stories that has been on my TBR pile forrrevveer. And I really have no excuse as to why I haven’t gotten to it before. But now I can just smugly feel that my procrastination was just divine providence for my being able to review it now with fellow bloggers.
There was a lot to love about this book, and the story wastes no time in laying it all out before you. If there is one word that I would use to describe this book it would be “fast-paced” (hyphens make it one word!). The story starts out with us quickly meeting our heroine, Amani, and getting a brief overview of the life she’s been leading, one that has been restricted by her gender, her status as an orphan, and her complete lack of funds to get herself the heck out of dodge. Wham, bam, a few pages later, Amani has gotten herself caught up in things over her head and found herself in the company of the roguish, Jin, who is now her best bet out into the wide world. From there, the adventure is just getting started, with mythical beasts and action around every corner.
I very much enjoyed Amani as a leading character. Her narration is witty, but believable, never falling into any of the too-easy cliches for smart-mouthed heroines. Further, her banter with Jin also walked this line well. Their romance was a nice addition to the story, but didn’t overwhelm the action or Amani’s character arc on her own.
I also loved the Persian setting for this story. I’ve been on a bit of a kick of this kind (along with the rest of the YA community it seems), and have enjoyed other books with a similar setting to this (“Wrath of Dawn” & “City of Brass” come to mind). The desert setting and the mythology of the region are always appealing, and I enjoyed them just as much in this version as I have in others. This story was also more action packed than some of the others, which I thought played well laid upon this desert setting.
My one critique comes in the middle of two positive aspects. I liked the setting, as I’ve said, and I like Amani’s special skill of being a sharp shooter. My only problem was the combination of the two sometimes lead the book towards feeling more like a Western than anything else, which I felt like took away from the Persian culture and setting. It almost managed to re-focus the story back to the more common Euro-centric fantasy books that are so predominant. This was a bit unfortunate as it ended up shooting (ha!) itself in the foot, taking out one of its own creative strengths a bit.
But, other than that, I very much enjoyed reading “Rebel of the Sands!” It was a quick read, full of action and adventure, and featuring a relatable heroine whose story I’m eager to continue following.
Rating 8: A action-packed romp with strong country Western themes and a witty heroine!
Next Stop on the Blog Tour: I Fangirl About Books