Rebel of the Sands | where was the magic?

Please Note: I received a copy of Rebel of the Sands in The YA Chronicles February 2016 subscription box: Rebel With a Cause. Visit The YA Chronicles to find out more.

24934065Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1)  by Alwyn Hamilton
February 4, 2016 by Faber & Faber
ISBN13 9780571325252
Young Adult
Source: The YA Chronicles
Rating: ★★★

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.


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I’m sad to have to start by saying that I was disappointed with this novel. Not incredibly so – I still enjoyed it. It just felt as though it was missing more than just a single something. 

In the nation of Miraji, being born female is something to be ashamed of. Women have only one purpose – to belong as an object to man. Amani has lived in the town of Dustwalk her whole life, and she doesn’t want to wind up as just another one of her uncle’s many wives. Her mother was hanged nearly a year ago, after the murder of Amani’s father, and so there is nothing left to live for in Dustwalk.

One night, Amani dresses as a boy and enters a shooting competition in the hopes of winning the money she needs to make her escape and head to the capital city of Izman, where she’s heard her aunt lives, and where she hopes to start a new life for herself. It’s at this competition that she meets a foreign man. And it’s this foreigner that will turn out to be her chance to finally make her escape.

“Haven’t you ever wanted something so bad that it becomes more than a want? I need to get out of this town. I need it like I need to breathe.”

I am absolutely in love with the world that Hamilton has created. Rebel of the Sands is set in a Middle-Eastern desert nation, filled with Western themes, and Arabian mythology. It’s an interesting combination that could have gone so far, but I feel as though we’ve been cheated out of so much information.

I was expecting a largely adventure-oriented novel that would explore the vast desert, which we learn is filled with many dangers – most of which are not human. The talk of skinwalkers, nightmares, and djinni had me excited for the troubles that Amani and Jin were sure to face as they raced through the desert, hunted by The Sultan’s army.

Unfortunately, most of that adventuring that I was hoping for was skipped through rather quickly, and as a result, we didn’t get to see much more than a glimpse of the creatures lurking in the desert sands. Just as the characters would begin their travels to a new destination, the chapter would end, and they were suddenly in a whole new place, and you would have no idea how much time had passed. So basically, the adventure all happened while we weren’t looking.

Honestly, I was so lost as to where the story was headed, despite how predictable it was at points. It wasn’t until well after the halfway point that everything started to fall into place, but then everything began to happen too quickly to fully take in (and I thought the first half of the novel was going by too quickly, ha!). The ending came so quickly, and it feels like the author rushed to fit so much into one scene, that you’re left with many questions, and a whole lot of confusion.


In saying all this, Amani did make the story worth it. She’s a total badass with a smart-mouth, and the sharpshooter skills to make a grown man cry. She knows what she wants from life, and will stop at nothing until she’s achieved that, no matter what problems or dangers she has to face along the way. She’s the type of person I want to grow up to be.

“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live.”

Jin on the other hand was a bit frustrating. I really enjoyed him as a character, but hated him for being the source of the insta-love that was present in this novel. The relationship that he had with Amani was absolutely amazing, but we didn’t exactly see how it actually grew, which I am really disappointed about.


I honestly did enjoy this novel, but I also feel let down, and I was left wanting for more. I went in, expecting adventure and magic and danger, and whilst all of those elements were present, it just wasn’t quite to the level that I was expecting, and hoping for. I hope that with the rest of the series, we get to see more of the land of Miraji, and even more of it’s mythology.


If you think you might enjoy Rebel of the Sands, copies are available for purchase in the following places: QBD, Dymocks, Booktopia, The Book DepositoryAmazon

I’d love to hear what you guys thought of Rebel of the Sands. Were you disappointed, and left wanting for more, or did you completely and fully enjoy it? Let me know what you thought below!

Until next time,


3 thoughts on “Rebel of the Sands | where was the magic?

  1. I didn’t know if I should read it or not, but your review made me realise it might not be a book for me! So, thank you! Even if that’s a little bit sad ^^’ We can’t love everything I guess!


    • I think if you ever manage to get your hands on a cheap copy, or even a borrowed copy, it might be worth a read still. A lot of people have really enjoyed it I’ve heard, though I think the majority are on the same boat with me. I still intend to read the sequel though if that counts for anything? (:


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