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Since its release last month, Rebel of the Sands by debut author Alwyn Hamilton, hasn't stopped getting positive reviews... and here's another one (a little late to the party).

Official blurb
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.
Summary in a few words: Original; Pleasing; Arabian romance

I love the combination of the wild west and Arabian nights. The two work surprisingly well together and, with Hamilton's brilliant world building, the reader is launched into an adventure in a world that is both familiar and exotically new. Small town in the middle of nowhere with a main character who wants desperately to escape, yes that's familiar. But, occasionally mythical horses gallop through town, shapeshifting "skinwalkers" roam the desert, and people whose fathers are among the magical First Beings walk hidden among normal people while a mysterious and possibly mythical prince leads a rebellion against the ruler of the land. That's new.

I appreciated that Amani was able to be tough without being an asshole. I think often in literature, but especially in television, when a female character is cool and tough, she also ends up being smug about it and kind of a jerk. I liked that Amani was real enough to make mistakes, but also didn't need to be saved all the time. I was a little disappointed to find that [spoilers] Amani isn't *just* a tough girl with amazing aim, but also is a "chosen one" type of hero--with special djinni blood. I feel in a way it takes away from her coolness a bit. She has cool abilities, but before we learned of her magical lineage, she was someone who was cool on her own merits.

Arabian Romance
To be honest I can do without romance in most books myself. I realize it's quite a staple of a lot of YA, so I can't complain when it exists. But I can say, if you were someone who had a crush on Aladdin as a kid, you won't mind what goes on in this novel between Amani and the suitably exotic and mysterious Jin.

When I started reading this I didn't realize it was part one of a trilogy. Now I am very much looking forward to the next installment and learning more about the rebellion. If you grew up loving The Arabian Nights and wishing there were more books set in that world, and don't mind some romance thrown in, definitely check out Rebel of the Sands.


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