I finished this book approximately ten minutes ago, and holy shit, the Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton is amazing! I cannot even begin to describe the ride this book took me on while reading it. You know what sucks though? I probably won’t see a sequel until next year. I am already dying on the inside. The rest of this year is going to be horrible just because I have to wait. And while the end was not a complete cliff hanger or anything, I still want- no, I need- to hear the rest of the tale. Other wise I’ll
go cry myself to sleep every night listening to C’est La Vie by ELP be very disappointed.
I suggest not even waiting to read the rest of this review. I cannot recommend this book enough and even though it is still right next to me from where I put it down after finishing it, I have to force myself right now to stop reading and write about it. But, if convincing is required, convincing I shall provide. The summary is as follows:
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.
Hell yeah. Nothing like a gunslinger to get the blood pumping. I usually don’t like westerns, but the book has an Arabian Nights edge that I personally love in any book (see The Wrath and the Dawn Review). Can you tell by now that I love this book?
The world Amani (the main protangonist) lives in is unforgiving. As a girl, she has nothing. As a boy, however, she has the power of terrific aim and guts to keep her alive. The village of Dustwalk is some back-country shithole where the women hang if they are raped and guns are more prevalent than water. Amani grows up here before embarking on her journey that makes up the plot of this book. And, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t entertained for every freaking word on every freaking page. After all, lying is a sin (lol inside jokes). The world of Miraji is expertly created, full of djinn and ghouls and Skinwalkers, and is fully capable of producing an individual as wild as Amani is. So, the plot is realistic in is surrealism, if that makes any sense. I love it, I love it, I love it.
Amani: Alright, here we go. Amani. Is. Awesome. She has an unbelievable sense of self-preservation and will do whatever it takes to get her goals accomplished. She has a knack for guns and can hold her own against any man in a gun match. She can think on her feet and has instincts that keep her alive. There is nothing more to say. I would say that she is the best part of this book, but there is just so much good in it, I don’t even know if I can.
Jin: Amani meets Jin early on in the book in a pistol pit and from the very beginning you know there is something up his sleeve. I actually reread this book since I began writing this review and I liked Jin even more the second time around. He possesses most of the characteristics that allow Amani to survive in the desert, but has a certain distaste for it. So the question remains: if he doesn’t like the desert, why is he currently traveling in the desert? And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of the matter. I loved Jin as well, especially upon a second reading.
Tamid: As a character, Tamid was not present for a lot of the book. The only reason I mention him here is because he is brought up in the rest of the book numerous times, almost as a motif.
Ahmed: To many spoilers!!!! Gahhhh!!! I want to talk about these characters, but then I would give away twists. Short story is that Ahmed is an interesting man. I am not sure how I feel about him personally, but a well written enigma nonetheless.
Naguib: Talk about a spoiled whiner. This character is one of the may sons of the Sultan and is constantly clawing for what power he can get. While he is distasteful, he is convincing, so I do have to say that he is a good character.
Noorsham: When he was first introduced, I did not even realize he would be a supporting character. He is kind of glossed over, than introduced again, then dropped again, then picked back up again. Hopefully we will see more from this blind follower the next sequel, but I can safely say that this character is as important a reflection of real people as he is a reflection of the main protangists of the series.
Holy shit, this is Hamilton’s first novel? No. Freakin’. Way. She way she told this story was brilliant. If the prose had been to sophisticated, it would have stuck out from the rugged nature of the world and protangonist. If it was too rough, on the other hand, it would have distracted the reader a bit too much. The writing, I am happy to declare, masterfully blends the two, at times being metaphoric and beautiful, and other times the tough language of a girl who’s lived a hard life. Simpy brilliant.
“Tell me that and we’ll walk away. Right now. Go and save ourselves and leave them to die. All you’ve got to do is say the word. Tell me that that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand to the sea. Just say it.”
I’d spent my life dreaming of my own story that could start when I finally reached Izman. A story written in far-off places I didn’t know how to dream about yet. And on my way there, I’d slough off the desert until there was nothing left of it to mark the pages.
Only Jin was right. I was a desert girl. Even in Izman I would still be the same Blue-Eyed Bandit with a hanged mother, who left her friend dying.
Bonus points for first person, present tense 🙂
Cover: The cover is pretty cool, too. It is accurate, pretty, and intriguing to boot.
This is, quite honestly, one of the best books I have read in a long time, possibly ever. There is no way I can see some one not liking this book; it is just so versatile. On one end it is a western, on one end it is an Arabian journey, on one end it is a rebellion story, and on another it is a redemption story. There simply is something for everyone.
This book is now in my top ten, if not top five. Read it! Like, right now! Just go and read this; you’ll thank me later.
*I may have to have a separate post about one part of this book in particular that I thought was amazing. However, it occurs near the end, and I would have to go into spoilers, and there is no f***ing way that I want to spoil this book for any one. I would not wish that on my worst enemies. So, I will clearly label the post as spoilerific and discuss this later. Toodles!