I just finished (re-)reading Rebel of the Sands, by Alwyn Hamilton!
This book came out last year and was one of my absolute favorites, and it still is! As soon as I'm done with this review, I'm picking up book two, Traitor to the Throne! It comes out on March 7th in the US but we had copies in our local bookstore for the past two weeks for some reason! I was way too excited when I saw it there and picked it up right away!
"She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
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."
After a year, this is still one of my favorite debuts! The words, the pace, the imagination in the story... all of it is enough to make you dream of the desert, its magic, and its dangers.
Alwyn's writing is eloquent and captivating, in the sense that you don't really realize that you're physically reading. I felt transported into the story, it's almost like watching a movie!
What I love about Rebel of the Sands, as for many books I review, is the characters. Amani is almost like Mulan - she disguises herself as a boy to be able to follow her dreams - to go to another town to live with her aunt, rather than living in the small town of Dustwalk, where she would most likely end up 'wed or dead'. She becomes the Blue-Eyed Bandit and meets Jin, 'The Foreigner', who helps her out of town and towards a larger city. On their way, they encounter difficulties, meet amazing people and figure things out about each other.
As I mentioned, Amani is amazing. She is sharp and determined, and always ready to fight for what she believes in, even though it may be a selfish want rather than something that would benefit everyone. She still fought and went to incredible lengths to get what she wanted. When she discovers something about herself that would change her forever, she accepts it and decides to work with it rather than against it. She is smart and brave and I wish we had more characters like her.
Jin is so cool! He starts off really mysterious and with a quiet charm that makes Amani melt (they're so cute together!), and maintains this coolness throughout the book, yet he's never shy about throwing himself in harm's way to move forward. He mostly keeps to himself and is quite secretive, but he is smart - he understands Amani and the way people work better than anyone.
I apologize for the short review, but if you want more of my impressions you can always find my first review, here or on goodreads!
I'm still giving this a 5/5 feathers! :D
Have a great day!