“They say she’ll always be more gun powder than girl. The desert has other plans.”
Book Blurb from Chapters Indigo
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.
Was this book another cover buy? You bet it was. Is this a common theme with me? Absolutely.
I was expecting a lot of spaghetti western and a little splash of Arabian mythology and I’m so glad I was wrong. It was such a wonderful mixture of cultures and mythology, with a touch of badass spaghetti western.
Amani, our sharp-shooting gun powder girl, was so very human – stubborn, unrelenting in her goals and quick witted. Not to mention, her tendency for impulse decisions kept the plot alive. And Jin- wonderful yet slightly vague Jin. He was such a delight. Although he was the obvious love interest (among other things- totally called who he was in relation to the rebellion), there wasn’t the repulsive insta-love I’ve come to expect and hate in YA. Their relationship started as one of convenience and turned from mild reluctance, to mutual respect, to friendship, to something much bigger than Amani ever expected. It was really enjoyable to read. The classic rom-com back and forth was just what I needed.
“Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand”
This was not a character driven book for me (although the secondary characters were fabulous as well). The most vivid part of the book for me was the mythology and atmosphere created. It’s not every day I come out of a YA novel being more jazzed about the mythology than I am about the character driven relationships. I find dijinn mythology fascinating and Hamilton did a fantastic job mixing it into the culture as both fact and fiction to the characters. To Amani, it had always just been old stories of immortals long gone, despite the occasional run in with ghouls and buraqi. To Jin, it was his life and family history. It should have been obvious to me, in that case, that Amani was the one who had dijinn blood in her veins.
Between the unravelling of everything Amani thought she knew, the rebellion, and the epic sibling showdown to end the novel, I was enthralled through all 300 and some odd pages.
I would definitely recommend this debut novel. It does follow a classic fantasy novel arch-type but I found it comforting rather than boring. I can’t wait to see how Hamilton continues to spin the mythology and rebellion in the second book, Traitor to the Throne.
Until next time-