Published by Viking on March 8th 2016
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.
Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.
Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.
Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.
I would give this book 3.5 stars. At the beginning, I loved the concept and how independent, strong, and intelligent Amani was. When she first met Jin at the shoot-out competition, I knew that he was going to be the love interest and was a little disappointed how early he appeared. I’m glad that there wasn’t a love triangle but more depth to their relationship would have been nice because I didn’t really understand the chemistry. That being said, one of my favorite lines in the book was this:
“Jin always smiled at me like we were both about to be in big trouble and he loved it. The prince smiled like he was forgiving you for it” (Pg. 215)
As to the plot, the first two thirds seemed incredibly aimless with nothing beyond “I want to leave this city” well defined. The last third picked up and saved the book for me. The characters introduced seemed more fleshed out than those that came before them. I will be reading the next book purely because of the last 30 pages or so.
I loved the fantasy aspect of this novel, from the Skinwalkers to the Nightmares to the Djemi (that was a seriously cool aspect, especially with their relationship to iron). The contrast between the mythology and the western parts of the novel made for an interesting concept and I’m intrigued to see where the author takes it next.