review: rebel of the sands

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book and was quite excited to read it. Firstly, the cover is absolutely gorgeous, and some of my friends had read it and said it was great. I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I was hoping to, and so I’m rating it 3.6 out of 5 stars. This is the third YA book I’ve read that’s set in an Arabian/desert setting. I didn’t quite enjoy the first two that much, so I was really hoping this one would let me prove to myself that I don’t have anything against books with this setting.

I thought the plot was quite slow at first, but gets pretty good halfway through. I was especially (finally) drawn into the story starting from the part Amani reaches a certain place. From then on, we get introduced to more interesting characters and finally know what’s going on. Unfortunately, I thought it didn’t happen soon enough. The ending was quite abrupt too, which bothered me. Usually I’d expect to finish a book feeling satisfied, but when I finished Rebel of the Sands I didn’t feel anything. I literally just went “oh, that’s it?” to myself. I understand that the author didn’t want to add more story to it and probably wanted to keep it all for the second book, but there really should have been an extra chapter for closure.

I have mixed feelings for the main character, Amani. Sometimes I like her, especially during the parts where she stands up to herself and some of her sarcastic remarks. But most of the time I couldn’t really feel connected to her. I did like that her character had development, but I don’t think it was done very well at the end. It seemed too fast and too sudden, and would have been more realistic if she had had more time and training. I also have mixed feelings for Jin, the love interest. He was definitely charming and attractive, but I wish there was more of him. The romance didn’t really work for me, and it really could have if the author had spent more time to develop it (and she really could have, especially during the 6 weeks of travelling). I did enjoy reading about some of the side characters Amani meets, and I liked their relationship with each other. However, it was just so late and so I just didn’t get the chance to appreciate them more. The death in the end should have had more impact, but it felt so brushed off.

The style of writing was okay, nothing too special or unique. I don’t know if it’s because I recently just finished a really good book and still have a small hangover from it, but I kept zoning out while reading Rebel of the Sands. It didn’t grip me well enough. Sometimes I couldn’t remember how I got to the point I was currently reading at and had to scan back a couple of pages and reread it. Perhaps sometimes, there wasn’t enough description written for some parts and so it felt like some scenes weren’t complete. I also had trouble keeping up with the names of places and people and armies, so I’m a bit confused with the whole politics and war at the end. The world-building wasn’t that bad, but there really should have been more. What I did really enjoy were the stories about djinns and humans and the sultan’s family. I was also fascinated with the concept that djinns and their offspring cannot tell lies (though they’re natural with manipulation and deception). That was pretty cool.

Overall, I thought Rebel of the Sands is another typical Young Adult fantasy book, but probably more suitable for younger fantasy readers who haven’t really read that many fantasy books. It has a dystopian vibe to it with the whole rebellion thing, only it’s set in a more medieval setting in the desert and has some magical elements with the djinns and all. But other than that, I feel like I’ve read the general plotline in many other fantasy books. I'm not sure if i would pick up the second book when it comes out. If there's good hype around it i might consider :)

Actual cover


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2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Kamalia has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.