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BOOK REVIEW: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

| 20 February 2016 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

February 2016
Faber Children’s
Paperback, £7.99 GBP
Reviewed by Aly Locatelli




And then all I could see was the sand and I forgot about everything. About fear. About bombs. About Jin. The desert reached out for us all with huge open arms. The churning mass that was chaos in the streets became order in the sand, welcoming us home.

If there’s one book this reader could not wait to get her greedy hands on, it was Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. It promised intrigue, badassery, a strong, fierce heroine and a brutal, beautiful setting and storyline that knew no mercy.

And boy, did it deliver.

Amani isn’t just a girl of the desert — she’s a sharpshooter with dreams of “more” and she’s damn good at what she does. Desperate to escape her uncle’s suffocating hold on her, Amani trusts her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk, and she will die trying.


Dreaming about the places my mother talked about stopped being enough when the trapdoor dropped open below her feet.

The desert nation of Miraji isn’t safe, though. Enemy armies march upon the sands, taking prisoners and executing those with special traits not deemed ‘human’. Monsters skulk in the shadows, hungry for human flesh. Leaving Dustwalk, a town set in iron and safe from such creatures, could end up in Amani’s death.

But desperation trounces fear, and one chance meeting with a strange and handsome foreigner seals the deal. Jin is a wanted man, a need for money leads him to a sharpshooting contest where he meets Amani, disguised as a boy. The two would never have thought that competing against each other could lead to escaping on a mythical horse, or discovering truths together that were, before, buried deep in the desert sand.


“You are this country, Amani.” He spoke more quietly now. “More alive than anything ought to be in this place. All fire and gunpowder, with one finger always on the trigger.”

Rebel of the Sands is a beautiful debut, a book I would deem a favourite after reading only a few pages. Amani and Jin’s story transcends fictional time, and makes the reader yearn for more as one reaches the final pages. Not only is this young adult fantasy beautifully told, with descriptions to die for, but it is also unflinchingly brutal in its storyline. It’s not a “pretty” book where everything is disguised and brutalities fade to black — it doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of a nation at war, and the characters are unapologetic in their survival skills.

Like Truthwitch, Rebel of the Sands follows certain ‘fantasy rules’, but it is also original in a thousand different ways. Amani and Jin’s friendship and their desperation to survive in a world that wants to kill them brought a light to an otherwise dark story. There is humour, romance, but also a strength that could inspire the fantasy genre to follow in the same footsteps. It’s the sort of book one doesn’t just read, but lives, and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of fantasy and is willing to try something new.

(Rebel of the Sands is the first book in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy by Alwyn Hamilton.)

Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

About the Author ()

21. A reader, a writer, a reviewer and a full-time sloth lover. I am addicted to coffee and my laptop, and love reading especially when it's rainy outside.

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