Rebel of the Sands is the debut novel by Alywn Hamilton, published by Viking Children’s Books in 2016.
Rebel of the Sands takes place in Miraji, where being a woman is not something you want to be. The protagonist, Amani Al’Hiza, who lives with her uncle and extended family after a tragic accident where she lost her mother and father. Amani is a sharp shooter and has been saving money to leave her dead-end town, Dustwalk. While at a pub, shooting in a contest, she meets the traveling foreigner, Jin and her life starts to change. To tell you anything more would probably spoil the story, but I can tell you there are some wonderful plot twists towards the end!
Rebel of the Sands was one of my favourite reads this year. I adored the characters and the plot, and I think it handled some issues very well. More below.
Amani and Jin were fantastic characters, full of life, courage and secrets. Amani was rebellious, brave, a great friend and an all round wonderful character. She stood up for herself and fought for what she believed in. I think this makes her a wonderful female role model for girls (and anyone) to look up to. I found her courage inspiring, and had I been younger when I was reading this, going through some not-so-nice times in high school, I would have had the courage to stand up for myself more than I did.
Something I loved about this novel was the way women were treated (and I don’t mean I’m glad they treat women badly). In today’s society women don’t have the same rights, it was good to see this talked about in a novel that was intriguing and accessible to anyone who loves a good fiction novel. I love that this shows the reader that women aren’t treated fairly in, well, any society really, that in one way or another, women are oppressed. The scene that really stands out to me is when Amani and Jin are crossing the desert with a group of other men (and this is slightly a spoiler so, be warned), trying to reach their destination. They find out Amani is a woman, and they decide they don’t want her to be a part of the group anymore, simply because she was a woman and wouldn’t be any help (which is crap because she’s a sharp shooter, she’s awesome and had already proved herself.)
I also really loved the world. Miraji was such an interesting place, and the legends were exciting and intriguing. I loved the tales that Jin would tell Amani.
The Djini were very interesting too, the powers and just the whole idea of this book was exciting and I am so happy I read it. Also, that cover. Can we talk about the cover, please? Because it’s stunning!
Like most YA novels, there is a romance and I was rooting for it from day one! The romance wasn’t the main focus of the book, which I absolutely loved. Don’t get me wrong, I love me so romance, but I also like when it’s not the main focus. Romance isn’t the only important thing in life, and I loved that Amani wanted her freedom and her own life before finding love.
Now, I said I would give you my favourite quote, from this book it would have to be and I’m sorry it’s quite long: “You are this country, Amani.” He spoke more quietly now. “More alive than anything ought to be in this place. All fire and gunpowder, with one finger always on the trigger.”
I would give this book a 5/5. It was a great read and a wonderful debut for Alywn, who is such a kind person!
In case you missed it, the title for book two is Traitor to the Throne! And it sounds AMAZING! You can find the blurb on goodreads!