Format: Hardcover, 320 pages
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
“Haven't you ever wanted something so bad that it becomes more than a want? I need to get out of this town. I need it like I need to breathe."
Rebel of the Sands is the first part in a 3-book trilogy by debut author Alwyn Hamilton. 16-year old protagonist Amani al'Hiza is really good with her six shooter. So good in fact, that she pretty much can never misses. Amani has saved up enough money to enter a Shooting Contest that she hopes will be her ticket out of the rat race she calls home; Izman, the Capital of Miraji. Dressed as a boy, and called the "Blue-eyed bandit" because of her blue eyes, Amani makes it to the finals where she has to go up against Jin, a foreigner they call "The Snake," and a contest that is rigged against them.
Dustwalk is a dark, and desperate place where things do go bump in the night and people haven't forgotten what Amani's mother did to get her dead. Amani has been living under the same roof with her uncle and aunt who have nothing nice to say about her. In fact, when her year of mourning her mother is over, he may even consider forcing her to marry him. Hamilton's world also includes some pretty evil creatures like shapeshifters, nightmare's, Djinni (First Beings), and Ghouls that live in the shadows. Iron is the only thing that can keep them away.
But, as Amani is forced to flee town with Jin in tow, his apparent connection to the Rebel Prince Ahmed al' Oman bin Izman becomes apparent. That puts them on an interesting path of fighting against the Sultan of Izman who has been allied with a foreign army called Gallan for years. That things take a sudden change into the bizarro world, was totally fine with me. Amani is a curious character who talks the walk and walks the walk. You know I hate when reviewers call female characters special snowflakes. It's truly arrogant and offensive at the same time.
Why can't female characters like Amani dream big, and carry a big stick at the same time. In Amani's case it is a gun and her ability to even the odds against a greater force. Why can't she find her own way and then learn that there is so much more about her, and others that she could ever discover on her own? I love this book because unlike other reviewers, I love the Arabian mythology mixed with a bit of Western Flare. What's interesting is that one of the main complaints about this book is the lack of parental oversight on Amani. Think on that for a moment. Had her mother still been around, would this story made any sense, at all?
One of the more interesting revelations in this story is about the children they call "Demjdi." They are children born from Djinni fathers, and human mothers. There are a handful that end up being secondary/important characters in this story. Hopefully, in the sequel, they will become even more important. One can say, "Oh, not another cross dressing character who is forced to be someone else in order to survive in a rough and tumble male dominated world!" So, what? I would rather see someone like Amani each and every time because she can carry the load when it is expected of her.