Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on March 8th 2016
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.
When I saw the description of this book, I was definitely intrigued. A Western Fantasy with a sharp-shooting female protagonist? Oh, yes please! I couldn’t help but immediately think of Wake of Vultures, which I loved and had hopes of loving this one just as much.
So, how did it hold up to my expectations? Well, it was a fun read, I will definitely give it that. Amani lives in a small town that survives off of their local gun factory. But even with that, their town does not seem to be thriving. The culture here is one were women take a lesser and more subservient role, they are pretty much second class citizens. Needless to say, that means this is a male centered society, where they make the rules. They also get to take multiple wives. It’s not at all a a desirable place when you are a woman, especially a woman with no one to look after you.
Amani has lost her parents, and has been living with her uncle and his plethora of wives and children. You quickly assess she is not valued or loved, but she does soon learn she is a commodity. Facing the prospect of a very unwanted marriage, she hastens her plan to leave this depressing town behind her. Her mother always use to talk about Izman, a far way city where everything sounded perfect. Amani has romanticized it and is determined to find a way to get there, even without her mother and now seems like the perfect time. Obviously, Amani’s character is the type to not let the expectations of society keep her in what they deem her place to be. She will do what she is able (what she has to do) to change her life to one that will make her happy. I will always have a soft spot for characters like this no matter how prevalent they are in books. I just love seeing someone stand up and find a way to accomplish what they desire.
Enter her plan to win a sharp shooting contest. One that has a prize large enough to see her through her journeys to set up a new life. The problem is, well, women can’t shoot, at least not in the contest. So, she disguises herself as best she can, and tries anyway. This outing changes Amani’s life in more ways than she could ever imagine. She quickly pairs up with a shooter known as “The Foreigner”, the exchanges between them are fun. Amani is definitely attracted to him, but, well, she is also pretending to be a boy/young man. And this sharp shooting contest does not go exactly as planned (in other words, chaos ensues!)
Their paths cross more than this one encounter, and quickly The Foreigner turns out to be an extremely important person in terms of the shape and fate of Amani’s life. There are discoveries and adventures, things may not go exactly as Amani envisioned, but she certainly faces no shortage of excitement (good or bad) in her life. Pretty much, this is a fun story, a fun read. But (yeah, there is a but), it is also rather predictable. I wanted to love this book, but just couldn’t quite get there. I honestly think it may just be because I wanted something more from it than was there. But that doesn’t mean the book was not worth reading. It was enjoyable and I will read the next one.