Title: Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)
Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publication date: March 8th 2016
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.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads)
Holy crap. Holy craaap.
Rebel of the Sands was so amazing I am still stunned by its sheer greatness. I actually can't believe it's over, I kind of hate myself for reading it too fast but oh my god, I just couldn't stop. Once I got past the first few chapters, I fingers were a blur because of how fast I was drinking in the pages, absorbing Amani's enthralling and exciting story. There were times when I would find myself waking up in the middle of the night, reaching over to my nightstand and reading about the Djinni, the desert and all kinds of fantastical goodness. Alwyn Hamilton got me hooked, and I don't regret a thing.
Right off the bat, I immediately fell in love with Amani's character, she was so passionate and driven and I couldn't help but be amazed by her. I adored her sharp wit and crazy mouth, she is everything a Fantasy heroine should be, in my opinion. And holy heck, her skills with a gun? *bows down* The girl can shoot, and she knew it too! Her confidence in her shooting skills evened out her vulnerable side, in terms of her insecurities with where she belonged and all the guilt she carried. Amani was an incredibly complex character but Alwyn Hamilton was able to really flesh her out and as the story goes on, pieces of her character are revealed and by the end of it all, you won't be able to stop yourself from wanting to befriend her or be her.
The chemistry between Amani and Jin, the mysterious foreigner she met? So completely off the charts that scientists have not even found the right formula for it. I'm not saying that Rebel of the Sands was filled with a lot of romance or lovey-dovey scenes; the relationship between Amani and Jin bordered friendship/camaraderie and lovers. It was such a treat to see their relationship progress, it was subtle, really, you won't notice the small details if you aren't looking for them. Even if their romance didn't lead up to romance, they'd make a great duo, Amani and Jin's dynamic was insane. There was this one scene in the desert... whew. #slay Also, the fight scenes in this book are 1000000000% legit. It was thrilling, bloody and magic-filled. You will find yourself staring at the text in awe because of how badass everything is. Seriously, so. Cool.
Majority of the first part of Rebel of the Sands consisted of Jin and Amani being on the run (you'll need to read the book to know why) so it was mostly only the two of them. But when the latter part came and a slew of incredible set of minor characters were introduced the book turned from good to great. It was such a special thing to see Amani interact with other people and create relationships, finding a place for herself to belong in. (Bahi, just... Bahi.)
I have no idea how Alwyn Hamilton was able to pack so much in 300-something pages but kudos to her for doing so. Each page managed to unravel a small part of the story so that when you got to the end, you have the complete picture. The whole book was such an amazing experience, it was exciting, emotional, humorous and everything in between and beyond. Alwyn Hamilton was able to really weave intricate and vivid images of such a beautiful and magical culture with such rich, fantastical ideas that summed up to a completely stunning Fantasy novel. And the twists in this book? You won't see any of them coming, trust me.
Rebel of the Sands was everything I hoped and prayed it would be. The hype for it isn't just hype and I do think that you'd be doing yourself a favour if you bought this book. It is easily one of my favourite debuts and reads of 2016 and I cannot wait to see what else Alwyn Hamilton has in store for us in her desert world.