Rebel of the Sands – Review // The Hype Strikes Again

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Book 1 in the Rebel of the Sands trilogy
Genre: YA fantasy
Pages: 314
Format: hardcover
Source: library
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


plot: 12/20
characters: 14/20
setting: 20/20
relationships: 18/20
twists: 12/20

Rebel of the Sands came out in the earlier months of this year, and it got amazing reviews. The hype for this book was immense, so I decided to read it for myself a couple of months ago. Now that I finally got a copy and did just that, I have to admit that I don’t entirely understand all the hype. It was a good story, but not nearly as good as I’d hoped. :/


Amani was a great lead. She was tough, skilled with a gun, and smart-mouthed, but not heartless or cruel. Her dream was to escape her small town and abusive family, and she was determined enough to actually do it. What made her even better was that she made mistakes. She wasn’t perfect, and occasionally she was even a bit selfish. I think this made her much more relatable, and I liked that over the course of the story, short though it was, her character evolved. 🙂

As for Jin, I have more mixed feelings toward him. He was introduced as an ambiguous foreign boy almost immediately, and became more of an asset to Amani’s escape and the overall story soon after. He cared and it showed, once you got to know him. He also had a smart mouth, and I think that’s part of why he and Amani fit so well. That is, when they weren’t arguing. However, one thing I didn’t like about Jin was his tendency to lie to make his own ends meet, and that he remained so secretive even after Amani saved his life. It wasn’t enough to make me dislike him, but I couldn’t understand it.

The world is an odd mix of Western and Middle Eastern, and even though it seemed like it wouldn’t work, it did. It was set entirely in a desert, which I can’t say I’ve seen before, and the world was brilliantly written. I really liked all of the details Alwyn was able to fit into the story despite how short it was, and that it never felt like info-dumping. The mythology was fantastic; tales of djinn, how the world was formed in a war between light and dark, and frightening creatures that hid in the dunes, with the ability to shape-shift and the desire to consume you. It made for a fascinating world to read about, and I loved every bit of it. 😀


Technically, there was no romance in this book, but there were hints of Amani and Jin becoming more than friends in later novels. As much as I love romance, I think the two would be better if their relationship stayed strictly platonic.* 🙂

* Shocking, I know.

My big issue with this book was the story itself. It was unique, don’t get me wrong, but it was very slow-paced. There wasn’t really any action until the last 50-60 pages, and even that didn’t really compel me. By that point I was mostly detached from the story because nothing gripping had happened previously. I also managed to guess both of the big plot twists; one was obvious (in my opinion) and one was more luck than anything else. There wasn’t even a cliffhanger to rope me into reading the sequel. :/

The last thing I want to bring up is more personal, and that’s the sexism in this desert world. It’s a fantasy with no hints of a time period, as far as I noticed, so I don’t think there was any real reason for it. In my opinion, fantasy worlds shouldn’t necessarily be tied down with the gender and race issues our real world is.**

** If I missed something regarding a time period or anything else that would explain the sexism, please let me know. And if you disagree, I respect that, so please extend the same courtesy. 🙂


I liked the characters and loved the world, but otherwise I must say that, for me, Rebel of the Sands was another hype victim. I don’t regret reading it, but I’m also not sure I’ll pick up the sequel when it comes out in March. >.<

I would recommend this to you if you enjoyed The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury or if you like stories about djinn in general! 🙂

my rating: 3½ out of 5 stars

Have you read this book? Is it on your TBR? If you have read it, what did you think? I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments! 🙂


I’m off to start reading The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi and possibly watch Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. 😛 I hope you all have a fabulous day/night! And if I don’t post tomorrow, Merry Christmas! ❤

Until next time…


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2 thoughts on “Rebel of the Sands – Review // The Hype Strikes Again

  1. Again, another book we share similar opinions on! I didn’t like this one all that much. It was a whole lot of walking…and more walking…and more walking. I also didn’t like the blend of wester/middle-eastern. It just didn’t work.

    Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook

    Liked by 1 person

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