Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Book Review

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton | Book ReviewRebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Series: Rebel Of The Sands #1
Published by Penguin Group USA on March 8th 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Action & Adventure, General, Love & Romance, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

“You will cheer for Amani the whole way as she escapes the bonds of oppression and finds her own power, and you will mark your calendar for the sequel.”—Rae Carson, bestselling author of the Fire & Thorns trilogy 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 AM SO GLAD I READ REBEL OF THE SANDS by Alwyn Hamilton. For real, that is a statement that deserves all caps. I was floundering a bit with regards to what I should read next — when a few friends on twitter recommended I start Hamilton’s debut book. THEY WERE SO RIGHT. Rebel Of The Sands has it all — an interesting locale, betrayal, kissing, magic, revolution and a main character who can definitely hold her own in a cage match. This book is the kind of debut that I often find myself yearning for — where all the elements I love are molded together along with a snappy writing pace – because sometimes all the different elements are there, but something is off about the writing. Not so with Rebel Of The Sands. This is the kind of book where I think we’re all going to be plotting different ways to obtain book two like RIGHT NOW.

Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton is about this girl named Amani. Amani lives in a good for nothing, end of the county town, called Dustwalk. It is the worst. There is just no real hope where she lives. Everyone is poor, essentially. Especially now that they are receiving less metal shipments to make guns. Amani lives with her aunt and uncle, after her mother died. The situation is not good, also she has a mouth that is too smart for her own good, if you know what I mean. One day, a mysterious stranger shows up in town. Amani meets him as she is entering in a shooting contest, dressed as a boy, hoping to win enough money to get her out of Dustwalk and into Izman to see her mother’s sister.

Unfortunately, all hell breaks loose at the competition and outside a youth is proclaiming about the Rebel Prince which is a big no no, as everyone is supposed to be loyal to the Sultan. And so, with all the commotion, Amani and the stranger go their separate ways. The stranger, though, is Amani’s ticket and so, she becomes a fugitive, on the run with the stranger through the desert. The two face perils throughout the book, culminating in Amani discovering the power that lies within, but also in some Rebel Of The Sands action, as in, we get to find out what the title means.

Amani is probably one of the best characters I’ve come across. So, okay, I’ve read a few prediction reviews on goodreads, where the guess is that in Rebel Of The Sands, the mysterious stranger, named Jin, is a Jinn. Y’all, subvert those predictions. SUBVERT THEM RIGHT NOW. Because this book goes in another direction and I absolutely love it for that. Here’s the thing, Amani is totally a strong female character who is this amazing sharpshooter. She has a smart mouth and is filled with desperation.

I am pretty sure that as a reader, I was destined to fall a little bit in love with her character. Anyways, she has this interesting relationship with Jin, but I don’t want to discuss her in regards to the relationship until the next paragraph. What I will say about Amani is that she’s rough around the edges and kind of a little bit prickly, but her attitude essentially fills the page and I just want to send her fan letters because she’s the best.

The back jacket copy of Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton describes Jin as a rackish foreigner, which GIRL. GIRL. That is how you immediately get me invested in the romance of a book. You use the word rake and not in the clean up the leaves from your backyard kind of way. Oh my goodness. I LOVED JIN. Like, okay, he and Amani have this kind of attraction to each other. Yet, their relationship comes off as more of one of antagonization. One character irritates another and so the story goes. Yet, they fall for each other and you realize that Jin is not quite who he was expected to be. He’s not just ANYONE. And yeah, if you like your characters rakish, you will LOVE Jin. And as much as he gives it to Amani, she gives it right back and it’s just FUN to read. If you like your reading fun, and maybe miss that feeling a little bit — this is the book to get your hands on, specifically for this interplay.

I have seriously been jonesing for desert setting books and my reading year has definitely delivered when it comes to that craving. Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton is set in the desert, starting with a town that is on the edge and kind of hopeless. At first, you think wow, living here must really be awful. But over time, as Amani escapes Dustwalk, you see that the desert can be a truly beautiful place. I loved reading about the survival and how they get from place to place. I also loved the different legends and stories in this book – how certain fictional things just came right to life as I read. Hamilton has carefully crafted an interesting world with this book — complete with strife, mythology, religion, and a complex sociology. I cannot wait to encounter more of this world with the sequel.

Rebel Of The Sands is easily a one sitting kind of book, if you are lucky enough to have a large chunk of time. The writing moves along at a good clip. The setting is immersive. The characters are the type that one immediately connects with. I have zero reservations about recommending Hamilton’s debut. It will appeal to fans of Rae Carson, Sabaa Tahir, and Renee Ahdieh. Hamilton blends a superb setting with a character who is unforgettable.

Other Reviews of Rebel Of The Sands by Alwyn Hamilton:

Arkham Reviews – “a very complex novel with some great twists

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I’m super excited to read this!

  2. APRIL!!! I already wanted to read Rebel of the Sands. But after seeing your review? I’m definitely going to prioritize this one on my TBR. It sounds freaking amazing! I love the way you’ve talked about the setting, the main character, the romance – it sounds like EXACTLY the type of story I could fall in love with. I hope I do!

  3. Ah! I’m so glad to hear this one is as good as it sounds. I’m definitely going to bump it up in my TBR!