Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Genres: Fantasy, young adult
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Purchase at: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble
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.
Amani Al’Hiza is a crack-shot gunslinger who has been living with her maternal aunt and her husband for almost a year after her mother was hanged for the murder of Amani’s dad. Now that the year is almost up, her uncle is demanding that either Amani is married off or he will marry her himself. This is the catalyst that gives the heroine the desperate determination to enter a shooting contest dressed up as a boy in order to have the money needed to leave and go to the town of Izman where she supposedly has a family relation.
This is also where the love interest Jin is introduced, as he is also in the shooting contest. Although it looks like Amani may be able to achieve her dream, events occur that send her racing back to her Aunt’s house. Unfortunately for her, the situation quickly deteriorates when the next day she runs into Jin, only this time dressed as a girl, and she proceeds to cover for him to the Commander of the Sultan’s army. This does not end well as the army is searching for Jin for the crime of treason.
The situation gets out of hand and Amani and Jin set off on a mythical horse creature that is able to cross the desert in record speed time. So begins the rest of the story. They are fleeing the Commander and although split up initially are brought back together and stay united for the remainder of the story.
I had a hard time with the world building. Dustwalk is written like it is the old west but it is set in the Middle East with Middle Eastern traditions and culture. Did not compute! Due to this contradiction of settings I found it difficult to immerse myself in this world. Once the story left that setting I was able to accept the world a bit better.
The heroine, Amani, is straight forward, witty, and determined. I enjoyed reading about her background, her struggles with Dustwalk, and her desire to make her own path. I found her gun slinging ways entertaining and humorous. Her naiveté is off-putting considering that she grew up hard; she should know a thing or two about the world.
Jin, the love interest, was appealing. The whole brooding, half-truths, and manipulation was disappointing. He had an end goal and he should have stood in that truth when it came out but he was almost “meh” about it. He could have been very rugged and gritty but he came off like he would be doing a lot of hand wringing in relation to his decisions concerning Amani. I know he is written as a seventeen year old, but he has seen the world and has been taking care of himself for a while now, and given his backstory he should be a lot tougher and mature.
There were many characters introduced that felt flat to me. They lacked depth. I wanted to know more about them but was left wanting. The way the story is written you know it is going to be a series and that although many of the characters were introduced in a rushed way with little depth, that hopefully they will have more depth in the next book.
How can I explain my mixed feelings on this book? Have you ever read a book, then when the movie came out you went to see it? You leave disappointed because although it was a good movie you have the knowledge of what it could have been and you regret going because it almost was injustice to the book. That is how this book feels to me. If it was a movie it would be perfect but as a novel I want those little details, I want the fleshing out of the characters. Will I read the next book? I believe so. I am hoping that there will be more depth to the story and of course with the cliff-hanger the author left me on, I just want to know what is going to happen next