{Review+Design Analysis} REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton

B O O K   T R A I L E R:

O P E N I N G   L I N E:

  I ROCKED FORWARD, BALANCING my book on my knees and tried to ignore the yelling and chatter around me. The edge of the cafeteria bench dug into my legs, practically cutting off my circulation, but I barely noticed.
  Em elbowed me, leaning over to hiss in my ear, "Seriously, Feebs, put that down. You look like a freak."
  "Uh-huh. Just one more page...it's getting good." I flipped the page.

(pg. 8, US e-book edition)

"I always figured the land creates its First Beings the way it creates its mortals. In the green forests and fields of the West, their magic grows from deep soil. In the frozen North, it crawls and claws out of the ice. And here it burns from the sand. The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with Sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live."


I’ve been wanting to read REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton for a very long time. Whenever a book is fought over by publishers, I immediately become intrigued. EIGHT publishing houses fought over this title. EIGHT. I wanted to know more!!!! When I heard it was a fantasy that took place in the desert, I was even more intrigued. Authors such as Rae Carson and Sherry Thomas have made me crave more desert fantasy novels. Interestingly enough, when I began actually reading the novel, it was a mix of two worlds: Arabian Desert and Wild West. I’m not quite sure where this is supposed to take place, but just assume it’s a made-up world with a vast land.

The novel begins with a girl named Amani who is desperate to escape the life she knows. Her parents are dead: Her mother murdered her abusive stepfather and was hung for doing so. Amani now lives with her Uncle, who wants to marry her and make her the latest of his many wives. Amani doesn’t want that. She saves up her money to enter a shooting competition, but instead meets trouble as she gets caught up with a foreigner named Jin. Now, the Sultan’s army wants to arrest both of them, so Amani’s plans to leave and find her aunt are thwarted. Instead, she disguises herself as a boy and joins a caravan with Jin, the slower way to cross the desert, but the only way to stay hidden from the army. Only…does Amani still want to find her aunt, or does she want to join Jin on the adventure of a lifetime? 

I really liked the fantasy and myth that came into the second half of the story once Amani and Jin hit the road. From dangerous ghouls and Skinwalkers to legendary Demdji (the children of Djinn and mortal women) with fantastic abilities, the world will sweep readers into a mystical, intriguing world. Even though the first chunk of the book is technically a “journey” book, it doesn’t really feel as cumbersome to me as other “journey” books. I usually get bored along the way and start getting restless for something to happen. In REBEL OF THE SANDS, however, there is so much constantly happening that I never got restless, and for me, that’s saying a lot!!

For those readers afraid to try new series due to the fear of cliffhangers, you’ll be pleased to know that there isn’t one in REBEL OF THE SANDS. There are a lot of loose ends that will continue into the next book in the trilogy, but it ends cleanly, and the wait feels bearable. I’m always so glad to see a book without a cliffhanger these days!! There's definitely a lot left to explore, too. We're introduced to several new characters in the novel's back-half, several of which are likely to become fleshed out and endearing to readers as the series progresses. I'm also exited to see things start to heat up between Amani and Jin, and for Amani to begin embracing her new future!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG ( kissing )
Language: PG ( I marked use of the words "whore" and "ass," but nothing too extreme.)
Violence: PG13 ( Fantasy violence, such as a ghoul being decapitated. )
Other:  PG13 ( “suggested noises” heard through doors that allude to random people having sex that will go over younger readers' heads;, a scene that implies a secondary character might want to rape the main character; the acceptance of polygamy. )

C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I really like the new cover treatment!

In person, the cover is shiny and eye-catching:

 When you take the dust jacket off, the colors match the pretty cover--and so does the spine!

Annnnd, each chapter looks like this (And take a peek at the matching good endpaper at the back of the book!):

I really love the way every chapter is covered in sand. It really helps retain the feel of where we are! One thing that I loved about the ARC (The version I read) was that the sand was on EVERY SINGLE PAGE of the book. I'd take a picture to show you, but the ARC has expired now!! But it was really cool, and I was sad that aspect didn't carry over to the final copy.

Still love it, thought!

And I like the mystery of the final cover much more than the original cover, which looked like:

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Penguin // Viking Books for Young Readers
Received: For Review

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.