Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel of The Sands
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Release Date: 4th February 2016
Publishers: Faber & Faber
No. Pages: 368
Source: Sent by the publisher
Buy at: BookDepository
I read this book back in February when I wasn’t as aware of problematic themes in books as I am now and so I’m editing my review as it’s been brought to my attention that this book is problematic.
The story follows Amani, a girl who dreams off escaping her deadbeat town. She know’s if she doesn’t escape soon she’ll be forced into a bad marriage; either to a stranger or to her uncle. I really enjoyed Amani as a character. She’s willing to do anything to escape to the city, and she’s ruthlessly unapologetic about it. She has a compassionate side too, which makes watching her make the tough decisions even more interesting.
Amani’s also a complete badass with a gun. This leads her to enter into a sharpshooting contest, in the hopes she’ll win the prize money and use it to buy a train ticket to the city. There she meets Jin, a forgeiner who’s on the run. Although I found it harder to connect to Jin, mainly because he is so secretive, than Amani I did end up really liking him. I especially enjoyed how witty he was. It’s pretty obvious that Jin is the love interest from the start, but the story barely focuses on the romance which I think fits the plot. Don’t worry though if you’re a fan of romances, there’s enough tension between the two characters to satisfy you.
We’re also introduced to a whole host of other characters, some of which I’m hoping play a bigger role in the sequel (I’m being vague because possible spoilers).
The world’s a blend of the wild west and the middle east, which in theory sounds like a really cool combo. Unfortunately, I wasn’t completely sold with the mix whilst reading the book. This book is essentially a western which does a poor job at blending Middle Eastern stereotypes within it. There’s a religion which I’m assuming is supposed to mirror Islam although it’s never confirmed within the text. However, if it is supposed to be Islam it isn’t a good representation since most of the characters spend their day getting drunk which is against the Islamic faith. I don’t know if this is a testament to the lack of research Hamilton did or if this was a genuine misconception but either way very few people have pointed out just how heavily this book relies on negative stereotypes.
Whilst I did originally like Rebel of The Sands looking back there are books with far better representation of Middle Eastern culture with better writing/plot. If you are looking for a book with better representation of the culture your money would be better spent on The Wrath and The Dawn by Renee Ahdieh.