Although some of Rebel of the Sands feels recycled, Alwyn Hamilton's latest book is thoroughly enjoyable.
We’ve had Katniss rebelling against the Capitol. We’ve seen Tris’ fight against a corrupt government. Now there’s Amani and her rebellion to free a desert kingdom from an evil despot. Another tyrant and another female teenage protagonist. Haven’t we seen all of this before?
Rebel of the Sands is an enjoyable read. The story is exciting and Amani is a well written character. While I can’t help but think the premise is recycled; the desert setting, the foreign invaders and the threat of magical ghouls are all original. It was still a novel it’s own right, just some parts seemed a little familiar.
There isn’t a love triangle, thank goodness, but there is a strong, overly attractive, unrealistically manly male character who instantly falls for Amani, and her for him. Oh, and did I mention he’s a prince? Not bad going really when they met only a few chapters ago. Then there’s the rebellion. Amani stumbles in, looking for a better life for herself, but ends up fighting for a better life for everyone else. Very exciting, very selfless, very much done before.
Katniss had a bow, Tris – her divergent mind, Amani has a gun. Amani grew up in a small dessert town, living with an uncle who hates her and dreaming of an unlikely escape. She taught herself to shoot at an early age, practising with tin cans in the deserts that surround her home. And she’s good – the cleanest shot of any character in the book. It’s what sets her apart and gives her authority, ensuring her survival. This might seem a little cynical but it’s not. I like characters who have passions. Characters who have skills that set them apart and drive them. Amani doesn’t just dream of a better life, she makes it happen.
With a new setting, a new regime and some added magic, this series is original but familiar. The lot is old yet new. It features the same formula and all the same elements as Uglies, The Hunger Games and countless other books lining the YA section of the book store. So why read it? Because it’s a good formula. Evil dictators – yes please! Underhand rebellion – tell me more! It’s fun, exciting and engaging.
Rebel of the Sands is a great read and I would recommend it to any fantasy fan. The novel is fast paced when it needs to be, but maintains well-developed characters and a steady plot. There are twists and turns aplenty, even Amani not quite what she seems. It’s no surprise the book is so highly rated online!
I may have a few gripes about recycled premises and the contrived love interest, but it hasn’t put me off. Yes, Rebel of the Sands is just another YA rebellion, but it’s a pretty good one. Traitor to the Throne was published as a sequel in February 2017, and I’ll definitely be reading it at some point.
Rebels of the Sand is now available.