Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

She’s a girl from the desert. She’s a girl from the desert with the gun. And a finger on the trigger. 

Amani Al’Hiza never misses

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This is a weird, weird, weird world that Hamilton set up. Like guns-in-a-desert-with-Persian-mythology-and-magical-goodness weird.

And I thought it worked. It felt almost natural to have a gun-slinging heroine in a world where Djinn roamed.

There were things that bugged me though:

  • When you set up a world about magical creatures, you would expect that aspect to take front and centre. But I was…bored. I swear the first 80 pages of the book was Amani trying to escape, failing and getting dragged back to Dustwalk at least three times. Like seriously, get out! JUST GET OUT AND GET ON WITH THE STORY.
  • The book got interesting once more fantasy elements were incorporated but that was 70% in.
  • Amani and Jin as love interests did not work. There wasn’t any chemistry between them and I felt like there were gaps in the story that could have really enriched their relationship.
  • GAPS! There was stuff missing! One glaring example was when Amani and Jin were trying to get their caravan friends out. It goes: “hey! Let’s make a plan to save them”, then next chapter is literally: “so, our caravan friends are suddenly travelling with us again”. What? How?!
  • The writing style: something about Hamilton’s writing style bothered me. There were times I felt like there was too much description that could have or was already explained through the dialogue. Or the sentences were so long-winded that would have been stronger if it was cut into shorter sentences.
  • Amani: oh my gosh, I was so mad that she kept leaving people (side note: what up with Tamid??) and breaking her promises (poor Noorsham). Yes, she changes. She makes the choice to not abandon her family and friends and that’s all great but I felt like Hamilton hammered that theme home a little too hard which ruined her character development stylistically for me.
  • characters: there were a lot. Sometimes I lost track. There were great characters though. I liked Shazad and Bahi. Noorsham was an interesting character and I was so intrigued by Naguib and his motivations that I wish there was more of a focus on Naguib’s character. And I liked Jin as well but I think I would have liked him more as an individual rather than Amani’s love interest.

I really liked:

  • some of the dialogue was funny and sassy:

“And this is Maz.” Shazad gestured.

Maz grinned. “The one and only.”

I glanced from him to his twin. “Who taught you to count?”

I died.

  • Diversity! There’s a character who’s gender-fluid (at least that’s how I read it). I was beyond excited to read about them.
  • when action happened, it happened. Like whoa.
  • the magical elements, especially the really cool compass. I want one. Somebody better get on with this.
  • the world: like I said, I think this world worked. Hamilton did a good job in  helping the readers dive into the desert. Everything fell into place and was cohesive.

Rating: 2.5-3 stars

The last 30% of the book was the one thing that made me inclined to give it 3 stars instead of 2.5. I probably will continue the series since I have high hopes that the second book will throw us in the action and magic

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10 thoughts on “Review: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

  1. EEEEP, I LOVE THIS BOOK. I’m sad you didn’t really enjoy it, but everyone loves different books, right?! 🙂 I loved the magical + gunslinging + Persian culture combination…I had no idea how it could work BUT IT JUST DID.😍 And I have to admit these covers are absolutely my favourites. I could just pet this one all day. So so beautiful!!

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  2. I enjoyed this and plans to read the sequel – but I agree with quite a few of your points. Some of the story was predictable and it took me a while to actually care about the heroine. Loved the magical aspect of this though, and am curious to see what happens next.

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  3. I’ve heard so many differing opinions about this one, so I am sorry to hear you felt so meh about it. 😦 Thanks for sharing though and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

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