I love a good adventure story; it’s what I enjoy writing and reading. Far off worlds, heroes on the run, a bit of romance and rebellion and villains on a power trip. I love it! So, Rebel of the Sands – with its starry-skied cover and swirling sands – reached out from the shelf and got me from the get-go. Between the covers it’s story of saloon shootouts, sand and ancient magic, and although it’s little tropey in places (y’know, small-town, tomboy heroine forced on the run with an attractive, streetwise stranger – nothing wrong with that, of course! I enjoy tropes when they’re well done) – the setting is unique. It’s Arabian Nights meets the Good the Bad and the Ugly, and I loved that premise. 🙂
Amani is trapped in Dustwalk; a town on the edge of the desert in a world where women have no voice. Desperate to leave, she enters into shooting contest dressed as boy in order to earn the money she needs to get the hell out of Dodge – uh – Dustwalk. A crack shot, she has a chance – until she meets Jin. When the Sultan’s Army storms into town, Amani and Jin ride out on a stolen horse into a dangerous desert full of magic.
Although I mostly enjoyed Hamilton’s story – the writing was very good – I hate to say that a lot of the mythology washed over me. Djinni, Buraqi, Gallan, Mirajin, Albish, First Beings, Destroyer of Worlds… I struggled to really take it all in and really understand it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked what I was hearing, but only in the same brainless way that I like, I don’t know, hearing someone speak French. They could be telling me I stink and I’d still lap it up with a goofy, misty-eyed grin. As a result I kind of lost my way a little in the middle and didn’t really connect with what was happening. Or where things were happening; I felt like a map of the world I was attempting to immerse myself in in the front cover might have helped.
I also didn’t 100% click with Amani. She reminded me a lot of Fan Fic self inserts; a smart-mouthed, stunningly beautiful girl who can hold her own against the boys (who all fancy her, obvs!)… But no real depth. I wanted a little more vulnerability. Because of this I didn’t really believe her romance with Jin.
(Also – and obviously not the fault of the author – frustratingly, the softcover edition I had was riddled with typos)
Long story short, I enjoyed the book (particularly the setting)... but wasn’t as swept off my feet by it as I’d hoped.