I really, really enjoyed this book, and I really didn’t expect that. Lots of books that try to combine the western and the fantasy genre just don’t work – my standards are high for both, and when you combine the two, I’m downright looking for issues. However, Rebel of the Sands, with its Wild West meets Arabian Nights feel, is spot on. If you don’t believe me, just sample it. I ignored this offering, but I took the publisher up on its sneak peek two days before publication. Big mistake. I spent two days desperate to get back to this book. I didn’t even flinch when I preordered it and paid $11. I needed this book, and I wasn’t disappointed. Get out there and find it because it really is a five star read.
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.
Rebel of the Sands is populated by characters I easily embraced. They aren’t perfect, but they have the potential for greatness hovering in hidden places. I particularly liked Amani because she is so tough, independent, and single-minded. Her journey from that girl to the one who will change everything for her kingdom is smart and compelling. This journey really is the heart of this book because it is essential to themes about independence and friendship, selfishness and selflessness. I liked this message, and I think there are many readers out there who will as well.
The plot was really better than I could have imagined, and, sure, there are elements of the western and Arabian mythology, but neither of those overwhelmed the story. Do not skip this book just because your dad had westerns on a loop when you wanted to watch cartoons as a kid. Do not skip this book because you hate the word Djinn (I know I can’t be the only person who feels aggressive when they see the spelling of that word. It grates like nails on a chalkboard). I hate Alladin with all the pent up ugly that is in me, and I still loved this book. I know it will appeal to a wide audience because it has characters with heart who are fighting for what is right against a government driven by greed – you know you love that stuff – it’s what kept you secretly watching The Hunger Games movies and The Divergent movies even though you know that the last one is going to blow chunks because we all know that book ticked off the entire population of YA girls on Earth (well, that one might have been about that hot guy, but, still).
If you love Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, with the tough-as-nails female protagonist, or if you enjoyed the travels and travails of the characters in books like Stone Rider or Walk on Earth a Stranger, you owe it to yourself to give this book a chance.
I’ve lead you to water, Kiddies. It’s up to you to drink.
I did receive a sneak peek of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, but I bought myself a copy of the book and I’m buying my beloved students a copy, so this is my real and honest opinion (It always is, anyway).