Title : Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)
Author : Alwyn Hamilton
Publication date : February 4th 2016
Publisher : Faber and Faber
Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy
Synopsis : 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.
“Tell me 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 and sea. Just say it.”
(All spoilers are hidden)
I thought I was a very easy reader to please, but it turned out I am not. At least, not anymore. Or am I still and it is the book’s fault? I don’t know, all I know is that I can’t seem to understand where all the praising and raving over this book is coming from or what the reason for it is, I just don’t see it and neither does Fatima @ Noteable Pad (click on the link to read her review, AKA best review EVER) whom I buddy-read it with. We ranted and screamed and rolled our eyes endless amounts of times, it got to the point where everything was hilarious.
I started off really bothered by the writing and I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was about it that just didn’t do it for me until Fatima put it into words, what she said was “It is a lot of this happened and then this and then that” and that’s the perfect wait to sum it up, it is emotionless which made it really hard for me to connect with anything. It was also very inconsistent, most of it is like I said before or very cliché and eye-roll worthy like this : “I was a desert girl. I thought I knew heat. I was wrong” referring to the love interest, while I found some beautiful imageries and sentences that made me wonder if the book wasn’t written by two people: “”You are this country, Amani.” He spoke more quietly now.”More alive that anything ought to be in this place. All fire and gunpowder, with one finger always on the trigger.””. The writing also suffered from a lot of draggy and unnecessary descriptions that added nothing to the story and even made it confusing and hard to follow.
Ah! The plot! What a marvelous thing it was (can you sense my sarcasm ?). First of all, the premise could’ve made for a splendid tale but, as you may have guessed it, it failed. It had all the elements needed at arm’s reach. A desert full of danger. A rebellion. A magic system with endless possibilities. But all of it wasn’t properly explored. Granted, there were some unexpected turns that surprised me but that was cut short. The thing that frustrated me the most was how so many events that could’ve made for epic scenes were skipped over. ESPECIALLY THE FIGHT SCENES, and even more especially the last one, the one that was supposed to be this thrilling head-spinning fight was barely there. I don’t know. When I think fantasy I immediately think epic battles, is it just me? And this book left me hangry (yes, hungry AND angry) because it didn’t deliver.
Also, the explanations given for certain events were ridiculous, just freaking hilarious because it was a bunch of non-sense. <Spoiler> HOW THE HELL DIDN’T AMANI KNOW ABOUT BEING A DEMDJI HER WHOLE LIFE ? Iron they said. Hah, really? Do you really think I’m that stupid? Why doesn’t it work you ask? I shall answer. For one, it says the iron in her gun prevents her power from surging but did she sleep with it? Bath with it? I hear you saying “But even without a gun, Dustwalk is charged with Iron” I answer that Sazi is even more charged because it actually has the factory in it and it only took Noorsham a few days away from the factory -not even from Sazi- to blow up the whole God damned factory. <End of spoiler> So I’m going to need a more logical explanation please.
Why, why, why? Why did the author have to take the stereotype, negative parts of the Middle East, smash them with some Western elements and do this ? I honestly got offended by this book, it took misogyny and oppression and showcased them in the most horrendous ways (not that they can be showcased in any other way), here’s an actual dialogue line straight out of the very first chapters : “”She’s needing of a husband” My uncle Asid’s voice carried more than his first wife’s. “A man could finally beat some sense into her.”” WHAT THE ACTUAL BLOODY HELL ? This is not okay, I choked on my own saliva when I read this. Oh, and the best is, that same uncle decided that the best was to marry her himself. I. JUST. CAN’T.
The mythology elements were really great to read about. I’ve always been intrigued by all kinds of mystical creatures so learning about these new ones the author introduced was fascinating. I loved the stories about Buraqis, Ghouls and Djinns. But here’s the thing, those creatures described in the books ARE NOT Djinns. I don’t know if the author knows this, but Djinns are actual non-mythological beings that are believed in by Muslims all over the globe, those described are straight out of cartoons and not from the culture itself. If you want to create a mystical characters, by all means, I’m not one to discourage you, but don’t do so and try to pin the name of something completely different on it. That’s where the lack of research really struck me and I started noticing it in other details over the story. Then come the Demdjis. First of all, their introduction to the story was completely random and out of nowhere, here again, I really liked it at first but then it started feeling like an excuse for people to have powers. Talking of power <Spoiler> Amani’s discovered hers. Okay. It’s out of control at first. Completely understandable. But then, suddenly without any training whatsoever, in a matter of hours, she becomes the master of sand while right before that other Demdjis said that it took practice. Excuse me, WHAT? Just no.<End of spoiler>
This story introduces a very wide cast of characters so, if I were to detail them all as I usually do this review will turn into an essay and we don’t want that do we ? So I’ll go into detail about our main character only.
Amani is probably the character I despised the most in my whole life. She’s just a big no to me. The author tries so hard to set her apart from the rest that she ended up suffering from what I like to call the SSS : The Special Snowflake Syndrome. She’s this blue-eyed girl where everyone has dark features. She has 3 marriage proposals in a matter of 3 chapters or so. She wants to master a gun and be free where all women are submissive. But that just made her out to be rebellious and reckless. And she quite frankly seemed out of place, she didn’t have regards for anything related to her people’s way of living, she just didn’t belong in that scenery, she’s too modern thinking for the setting she was placed in. And don’t even get me started on how big of a selfish brat she is. <Spoiler>Who flees leaving their bestfriend to die because of her? Well Amani does. Tamid was such a good sport to her, always there for her when she literally had no one. And what does he get in return ? A bullet through the leg. <End of Spoiler> She just doesn’t care about anyone but herself, leaving people behind very easily and without any remorse. And I don’t count those two lines of “Oh I shouldn’t leave people behind anymore” remorse.
Until Jin shows up that is. With his foreigner features and muscular chest that she doesn’t fail to gush over. The girl suddenly leaves everything she once wanted and is ready to follow him wherever he goes. WHERE IS YOUR SENSE OF PURPOSE, GIRL ? So, for a big chunk of the book, this MC has no goal. Nothing. Nada. Rien. And I cannot fathom it. <Spoilers> First, the girl wants to go to Izman. Great, she wants to get away. Then, Jin comes and she doesn’t even know where the hell he’s going but she drops everything and follows. THEN, when they get to the rebellion, it only takes them two words for her to be convinced by the cause’s righteousness. So much for being a smart person. She’s not even a little suspicious. NOT. ONE. BIT. <End of Spoiler>
One thing I liked is the duo that Amani and Jin formed, but that too wasn’t well developed. DAMN IT !!! WHY OH WHY ? Their banter is good, they balance each other, but 2 months of life together were skipped in the story so we didn’t get to experience as they grew closer and got to know each other *bangs head against wall* I really don’t understand why this book has made a habit of skipping all the good parts.
This is my longest review yet and believe me and can still go on and on and on but I won’t. You’ve understood it by now. I am not a fan. This book needs a lot more research to get everything it did wrong right and I wish it were done because then, it would’ve been great, but now it’s not.
*Special credits to that gorgeous cover. I’m so in love with it ! Looking at it I can almost forget that I didn’t like this book.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Rebel of the Sands ? If so, what did you think of it?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.
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