Rebel of the Sands – When Desert snowflake meets lack of research

Alwyn Hamilton - Rebel of the Sands

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.

Rating : 1 star

Copy of Word Wonders (2)

“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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53 thoughts on “Rebel of the Sands – When Desert snowflake meets lack of research

  1. I’m in LOVE with this rant. I’m forcing (encouraging) everyone I know to read it and die laughing. This is just so spot-on. You know exactly how I felt about Amani, and you listed everything too! “She’s too modern thinking for the setting she was placed in” YES! Selfish! Double yes! Leaving people behind. Triple yes! This list could go on. I have too much to say about Amani. I’m just screaming “WHERE IS YOUR SENSE OF PURPOSE GIRL?” with you. It makes my head hurt, and I can’t drink tea to fix it. Not good.

    “I really don’t understand why this book has made a habit of skipping all the good parts.” YUP. The fights are practically nonexistent. I’m very ready to start ranting again in your comments, but that wouldn’t be good haha. This is a 10/10 rant though. Absolutely perfect!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review! I’m actually about to write up a review of this myself, and personally I enjoyed it (despite some major tropes e.g. the ‘special’ main character). But I do like to read negative review which, like this one, actually outline what the blogger doesn’t like about a book.

    One thing I wasn’t aware of (I fully admit to my ignorance of other cultures) was the background of Djinns, or rather that they are beings already well established in culture. Thanks for sharing that knowledge. I’ll definitely have to do some research and educate myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is always a plus knowing what other people think of a book you enjoyed ! When your review is up please come back and leave a link to it because I’d really love to read it !
      Well that’s part of my own culture so it is okay if other people don’t know about it because we cannot😊 be aware of everything in from other cultures, what’s not okay though is writing about other cultures without researching them thoroughly. My pleasure !

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This book has always been wavering on and off my TBR, but I don’t think I’ll ever actually pick it up. Something about it puts me off before I even read the first page. It’s weird. It’s a shame you didn’t like it when so many others love it, but I honestly applaud you for this review haha! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This was a really good review. I decided to read the book yesterday. I gave up half way through as I couldn’t get into the book and I really didn’t like it. Its a shame because it looked like it would be a good book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been waiting for this review and it didn’t disappoint, I always enjoy reading a review from the point of view of someone from closer to the area the books are set. I’ll properly still read this but I’ll definitely keep an eye out for your criticisms!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I have this book and every time I look at it I just cbf reading it so I’ve put it off for ages. Now I’m finally seeing some negative reviews I don’t think I’ll picking this up anytime soon. I will read it eventually and hopefully laugh at those ridiculous lines!
    btw your spoiler section is fantastic I didn’t read it obviously but I loved how you formatted it 🙂
    Great rant!


  7. LOVED THIS REVIEW! SO honest and blunt! I actually gave this book 4 stars, but looking back it was way too generous and this book deserves at most a 3.5 stars from me. It was enjoyable but just didn’t leave me feeling fulfilling. I don’t see myself getting hyped for the second book.

    Liked by 1 person

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  14. I read the review’s title and immediately laughed out loud. Absolutely everything you ranted about is so true, and your rant itself is hilarious. I honestly don’t remember what star rating I gave this book, but I’m now convinced I didn’t rate it low enough. I’m going to be so ashamed if it turns out I gave it three stars or something. *Checks.* Oh thank goodness, I gave it two. *Wipes brow.*

    Thank you so much for this perfect review. Now I’m off to read Fatima’s! =D

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. So this is the rant you talked about earlier! 😛 Suuuuch a bummer when potential is wasted, as it seemed to be the case here. Dense writing is also a hit or miss for me thought it’s mostly a miss. Eeekk. And I could see that the misrepresentation bothered you so much! I would be mad to if my culture is being represented, but I don’t know much about Middle East so I probably wouldn’t know even if I read it myself. And why the hell would an uncle marry his niece?! That’s just gross </3

    However… I'm still curious because I heard a lot of rave reviews about it :') I probably would still read it (I mean, I bought it and I feel guilty if I don't) but it wouldn't be a priority. I'd also be careful of the cultural representation! Great review Fadwa 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha yes 🙈
      I’m not that familiar with middle east but she took the more religious (meaning Islam) side of it and used it and not in a good way, things you wouldn’t have trouble picking up on. Like there were hints like prayer calls and such!
      Right?!?! Yikes!


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