REVIEW: REBEL OF THE SANDS BY ALWYN HAMILTON

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Title: Rebel of the Sands
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 314
My Rating: 4 stars

 

FOUR_CATS

“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.”

 

Pros:
– skinwalkers that can change their appearance on a whim, horses that are half animal and half sand, shapeshifters
– people with the ability to speak truths into existence, but who are also unable to lie
– A unique gunslinger vibe that was somehow also middle eastern and western at the same time
– Commentary on oppression when it comes to gender and highlighting how women are frequently taken less seriously due to their sex

“What about you?” I asked.
“I’m a girl who could’ve done just about anything if I’d been born a boy.”

Cons:
– Too much talk about the origins/stories of the Gods, when it isn’t necessary to the story
– Pacing felt a little off, but there were plenty of exciting moments
– Lots of characters to keep straight; they’re mostly all dumped on you at once, and I wanted more time to get to know them (it does happen in the next book)

The author created a world that had a western/gunslinger feel, while at the same time incorporating Middle Eastern influences, and I really enjoyed what the resulting world ended up as. People carrying scimitars and wearing khalats while saying things like “I reckon” makes for a really interesting setting. It definitely stands apart from a lot of the books in this genre in a few ways. As far as characters and plot go, I enjoyed the supporting characters, but I wanted to get to know them better- (we do get this in the next novel in the series). The plot was interesting, although the history and politics could be hard to follow at times. I also especially liked that I couldn’t guess everything that would be happening in the story, and all the twists caught me off guard.

 

“This revolution was a legend in the making. The kind of tale that sprawled out long before me and far beyond my reach. The sort of epic that was told over and over to explain how the world was never the same after this handful of people lived and fought and won or died trying. And after it happened, the story seemed somehow inevitable. Like the world was waiting to be changed, needing to be saved, and the players in the tale were all plucked out of their lives and moved into places exactly where they needed to be, like pieces on a board, just to make this story come true. But it was wilder and more terrifying and intoxicating, and more uncertain, than I’d ever thought. And I could be part of it. If I wanted to. It was getting way too late to rip myself out of this story now, or to rip it out of me.”

I liked that the heroine had flaws and wasn’t perfect- she made mistakes and learned from them. She even left some people behind in the beginning to get where she felt she needed to be, but by the end of the novel she ended up fighting for much more than just herself. She was a badass and self-reliant character, and didn’t take the back seat when anyone tried to make her. I really enjoyed the smart mouth that the author gave her and the fact that she was independent but at the same time was desperate to meet people and explore the world outside of the town she grew up in.

This was my second read through of the book, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around. There were plenty of twists and reveals, and while I remembered most of it, some of them totally caught me off-guard again. I’ve only read the first and second book in the series, so I’m looking forward to making my way through again and getting to read the finale!

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