Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Publication: February 4th 2016 by Faber & Faber
Format: Paperback Pages: 358
“Tell me that and we’ll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand.”
Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town. It’s not the place to be poor or orphaned or female. And yet Amani Al’Hiza must call it ‘home’.
Amani wants to escape and see the world she’s heard about in campfire stories.
Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run.
But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic. The Sultan’s army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion…
An epic story of swirling desert sands, love, magic and revolution. – Goodreads
Rebel of the Sands was a huge disappointment. The book’s description promised mystical beasts, djinni and magic, so I had the impression that I was going to get swept up into an epic world with heavy references to Middle Eastern folklore. What I got instead was a mediocre story desperately (and poorly) attempting to add a Western touch to the Middle East. The fantasy elements didn’t even kick in until right at the end, which was annoying.
The story was slow paced, and there were info-dumps everywhere, which made the writing suffer. Considering how much time was spent on world-building, I expected it to be better than it was. The fact that the majority of the fantasy elements seeped in right near the end is an indication of how terribly organised the structure was. The djinni stuff was very interesting, but sadly there wasn’t enough focus on it. It was left far too late.
On top of that, there were a bunch of clichés, repetition, and confusing prose. The writing was quite jumbled sometimes, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on, I got bored of trying to figure out what the author was saying so I skimmed some parts.
The narrative was written in the first person from the perspective of Amani, who was an irritating character. Amani kept throwing unnecessary snide comments around, and it seemed very forced, it felt like she was trying too hard to sound cool. Her character was bland and kept getting worse. Rebel of the Sands turned out to have the typical girl motivated to achieve goal suddenly decides guy she hardly knows is more important plot. It was evident that there was going to be something between Jin and Amani. Her descriptions of the guy were awful; it was like reading the mind of a thirteen-year-old. I didn’t care much for the other characters either.
Additional note: the ‘djinni’ in this book were a far cry from the djinni stories I have grown up reading and listening to. I’m letting that slide because I think the author took a different angle on them and changed them into something else – which is why I wanted to learn more about her take on them. Djinnis are NOT mythological, they are a part of the Muslim faith, and if this book was based on the stories I have heard, naming a good character ‘Jin’ would have been an incredibly stupid move.