Book Review | Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

It has been a long time since the last time that I have written a book review, or any form of writing actually. I have been busy with revision, and I have been suffering from a reading slump for quite a while now, I mean I would normally be able to read at least 4 books in a month but last month I was only able to read two, and this month I haven’t even finished one! It’s terrible!

 

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Rebel of the Sands

Series: Rebel of the Sands
Publisher: Faber and Faber Limited
Publication Date: 2016
Genre: YA, Adventure, Fantasy

“Tell me how you want your story to go, he says, and we’ll write it straight across the sand.”

Dustwalk is an unforgiving, dead-end town. It’s not the place to be poor or orphaned or female. And yet Amani Al’Hiza must call it ‘home’

Amani wants to escape and see the world she’s heard about in campfire stories.

Then a foreigner with no name turns up, and with him she has the chance to run.

But the desert plains are full of dangerous magic. The Sultan’s army is on the rise and Amani is soon caught at the heart of a fearless rebellion…

Overall Rating: 3.5

 

I am not going to lie and say that I didn not judge this book by its cover, because I did. The reason why I picked it up was because of it’s book cover. Because look how pretty it is!

In the most part, I think Alwin Hamilton was successful in building up her characters. She was able to give each and everyone of them their own personal back story, their own personalities and distinctive characteristics.

Amani Al’Hiza is one of the strongest female heroines I have read since Katniss Everdeen. This girl is feisty and badass, she does not take no for an answer, and she will do everything in her power to get where she wants to be. I liked everything about her, and she is an overall amazing character.

Jin is simply the character who won me amongst everyone else. It was the way he is so passionate about where he came from, and his stories of the ocean, of the country he grew up in. Not to mention his amazing fighting skills to.

They are the two most developed characters in the novel, which is understandable as they are the main protagonists of the novel. However, the rest of the characters fell short of being flat and two dimensional – yes they are given their own personalities and backstories, but it didn’t feel like they were there. Hamilton opted to write a novel where she ended when the story was just beginning, but in the process she has had to rush the introduction of important characters in such a short amount of time that they ended up simply being shadows compared to the solid representation of Amani and Jin. I mean, we don’t even directly meet the antagonist of the novel – nor was I completely invested in the Rebel Prince, nor the rebellion until the later parts of the novel!

Hamilton didn’t have to do much of world building, as I have had the image already ingrained in my mind – a desert where the towns were pretty much like that of the Arabian Nights, the setting of Aladdin if you want me to be specific. Hamilton did not necessarily did amazingly in her world building, as her description of the desert as simply being a vast wasteland of sand and nothing more apart from the occasional oasis, is a little unrealistic. I mean, I have never been to a desert before, nor do I plan to visit one – but I am pretty sure that there is an array of flora and fauna in the desert as much as we think that they would be a barren wasteland consisting of only sand.

Also, I couldn’t help while reading the book picturing a western style setting. I forget that we are in a Middle Eastern setting and not the Wild West, that I have to constantly remind myself that we are talking about djinnis and Al’Buraq  for crying outloud – characters from Middle Eastern myths and Legends.

I wasn’t necessarily invested in the romance in the novel, it was there but barely. I have read some reviews where they say that the romance between the two characters is happening so fast, but let us not forget that the author often skims through the events that has taken place while they were travelling in the desert, in fact she does not spen a lot of time describing what happens in their travels apart from when there is imminent danger or something big was going to happen. It was something I noticed when the story often feels like it was on a timelaspe. Therefore, there was plenty of time for these two individuals to become attracted to each other, and end up likeing one another.

I like the fact that the author was brave enough to delve into Middle Eastern mythology and legends, and it is definitely interesting to read about magical beings of Islamic orgins be paired with the evil beings of Hinduism (The Destroyer of Worlds). I am not completely educated in these scriptures and mythologies, but I think it is interesting how Hamilton has taken these two separate scriptures and moulded them into her story as being a part of each other.

Hamilton’s writing style didn’t blow me away, nor was it sparse. It was just right, and it works well with the pace and the turn of the story. She does not dwell on irrelevant details, and focuses only on the things that matters – this can be seen when a seemingly irrelevant character at the beginning was reintroduced to be an important character nearer the end of the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed this debut novel by Alwyn Hamilton. I thought it was fun and enjoyable, and I would recommend it.

One thing that I do wonder is how individuals who grew up with the stories of djinni and lores mentioned in the book would react to the way Hamilton has interpreted these stories to make her own.

 

 

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