Sunday, June 5, 2016

2016 Review Train: Rebel of the Sands

 Isn't this one of the coolest blog buttons?! Brittany made it for the 2016 review train and each of the books being reviewed is a train car! By of way, yesterday Alicia @ A Kernel of Nonsense reviewed The Distance Between Us by Kassie West. Go check out her post!

 Today I'm reviewing Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. It's very likely one of my favorites this year. It's a fun read, packed with action. You can't help but read it fast.

my mini blurb:

Amani will do anything to escape her dead end town Dustwalk. Anything to keep from being wed or dead. Posing as a sharpshooter boy seems to be her only chance out, but is it?

It's fantasy with a Middle Eastern culture mixed with a Western setting (think guns, desert, and train heists Western). It sounds like an odd mix, but it works. I don't think I've ever read a "real" Western, nor do I often read books with Middle Eastern culture. This was a refreshing change and I loved every minute of it.

Amani lives in a culture where being a woman is a shame. But she's always been one to go against the grain and make her own way. She has strong determination and she doesn't let anybody get her down. Although she does make some very bad decisions and sometimes she's selfish. So she has her flaws; she's human.

Character development for the win!

Also, she has a smart mouth. She grew up being beat for her attitude and yet she still has a steadfast sass. I loved it! Smart mouth characters are always my favorites. 

To be honest, at the beginning of the book I was a little put out. I liked it, the different setting and the culture, the sand and the GUNS! Did I mention there were guns? Loved the guns! But I felt like I was reading any other girl-goes-independent YA book, just with a different flair. I liked, but didn't love, the book (although the guns, man, the guns). I thought, "This is good, but not outstanding."

And then

The plot twist!

Haha! I loved it! It surprised me. Recently, in the books I've read I've seen half the "plot twists" coming. Not this book. This one threw sand in my eyes and ran away laughing.

I do have one qualm though, and it's not with the book itself. It's YA in general. The love interest. Why is it that you can always spot the love interest from a mile away? With a huge arrow floating above him/her and fireworks in the background. Love interests rarely sneak up on us. The moment we see them we all know, "Here's the really hot person our MC will kiss on the last page."


I just like to be surprised. That's all I ask.

Also, there was that other "plot twist." It's one of those twists that you're not sure if it actually categorizes as a plot twist because everyone knows it except for the MC. We're all just waiting around for her to catch on.

That aside.

I loved how everything had a subtle foreshadowing and then it all comes together. Everything intertwined. All the coincidences mentioned in passing actually become something meaningful by the end of the book. Which I think is how it ought to be. An event might seem distant and unrelated to one person, when it is close to someone else and really hits home.

Even though the love interest first shows up in all his cliched glory, after time I really liked him. Other people wouldn't give Amani the time of day because she was a girl. The love interest though treated her like she was capable of taking care of herself and capable of helping others, which she was. Meaning they made the best team. I love couples who work together. I appreciate that trust in each others' abilities and the not-smothering-each-other-with-concern. They were an unstoppable duo! And that's how it should be.

Also, Amani actually gets to form friendships outside of her love life. Wow, who'd ever think that was possible? Or realistic. A love life and friends could be unhealthy, Amani. Don't get too crazy.
The other characters were a great cast. I loved them all! The banter. The personalities. I don't think I could pick a favorite. There was an emphasis on friends and siblings. Especially siblings. It wrestled with the questions like, "What if your sibling is a dastardly villain? Would you kill him/her to save the world?" Because this is relevant to everyone. 

Loki & Thor (GIF)

The author balanced all of the relationships in the book superbly. It was done well even to the very end. Usually, a story emphasizes the romantic relationship most since the last sentences depict the couple kissing or holding hands, walking off into the sunset--  have a good life! This book didn't end that way. I appreciate the redirected emphasis. It took a broader outlook which was very fitting.

So by the end, I was grinning like an idiot.

Translation: Go read the book!


Don't forget to stop by Sinead's blog Less Reality, More Books for the next stop on the review train! Thank you so much Brittany @ Space Between the Spines for host!

Have you read Rebel of the Sands?


  1. Hey Ashley, aka fellow reviewer!! :D This book sounds amazing, I'll definitely have to check it out. Plus, I know what you mean about love interests, they seem incredibly clichéd, neon bright and predictable these days. However, if they're written well and yummy, I normally don't mind too much, haha :) Great review!

    1. Hi! Thanks so much for coming by! It is a really good book. A new favorite. Yes, yes, the love interests. But you're right, as long as they're well written, they're still good to read. :) Thank you!

  2. Loved the review! I absolutely adore when authors give the protagonists important platonic relationships and not just love-interests. I personally think it makes a character more well-rounded if they have other people in their lives that are important to them beside a love-interest. I do agree, Amani and Jin make a great duo though. Glad you enjoyed this one!

    1. Yes! I love a good platonic relationship or many. :) You're right. It does make them more well-rounded and realistic. A and J make such a great team! I loved them together. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Replies
    1. It is! I think you'd like it a lot!

  4. I'm halfway through this one and I love it so much! I really need to finish it, but already I can tell it's one of the best books of the year. Great review!

    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying it! It's a great book! I hope you like the rest! Thank you!

  5. Excellent review, Ashley! I'm so so excited to read this one - I already own a copy now I just need to jump in!

    1. Thank you! I hope enjoy it! It's a good book. :)

  6. I just read Rebel of the Sands a couple months ago and completely agree with you! I've been so let down by "plot twists" but this one took me by so much surprise that I reread the section just to make sure! The emphasis on friendships and siblings was so well done. I'm right there with you when it comes to love interests. The intrigue isn't there anymore, especially in New Adult!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's such a good book. The plot twists and the friendships, everything! I'm glad someone else agrees on love interests. XD Thank you!

  7. Gah! Everybody has and/or read this book and I didn't even hear of it until you said you were going to be reviewing it for the Train. Geez, I'm behind on my books. TT_TT (I blame Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock series, which I'm late to the part to as well, but whatevs. >.>)

    I'm so glad you enjoyed this book as much as you did! I've seen from a couple of people already that this is definitely one of their top reads for the year. I usually don't reach for a Western when I go looking for books, but I might just have to see what this one is about. I mean, guns and hot guys, right?

    I'll admit I'm getting a little worn with the independent-girl-in-man's-world lit lately, especially in YA. And seeing that you said you saw the love interest a mile away, I'm a little worried. I mean, why can't -GASP- the female MC not end up with anyone? It's possible to write a book without romance... But that's a point for another day.

    Anyway, since you said the twists were awesome and that the everything intertwined so intricately, I'm definitely eager to get my hands on it. Be warned, though, if I don't like it, I'm blaming you! =P

    Lovely review, as always. Thanks so much for being a part of the Review Train. It means so much! <333


    1. The only reason I knew about it was because it's been all over bookstagram. I don't normally go for Westerns either, but after seeing this book all over the place and everyone saying how good it is. . . Well, I was curious and had to try it. I'm so glad I did though. It's excellent!

      Yes! I am so with you. What if there was no romance at all? What if the point of the book wasn't to find romance? What if in the end, or the protagonist ended up romantically alone. I've thought about this a lot actually. It's got to happen!

      I hope you like it! I guess it would only be fair that I take the blame if you don't enjoy it. XD But I hope you do. It's such a fun read.

      Thank you so much! And thank you for inviting me! It was a lot of fun. :D

  8. I would write something intelligent here, adding to what you so brilliantly said but you basically summed up my feelings 15696% so I have like nothing to add now. So yeah.

    1. YOU'VE READ THE BOOK!! Yay! I'm so glad. And I'm glad you liked it. It's so good. :)


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