“Rebel of the Sands” is a 2017 book by Alwyn Hamilton that made the Tayshas list, a premier list in Texas for YA novels. This was a very enjoyable read that explored an interesting mythos that held its own with classics like “Star Wars” and other space operas. The setting follows tomboy Amani, who never really fit into her poverty-stricken dust town, and was drawn to adventure, mainly by guns (a major part of the desert world’s lifestyle). The setting is unique, while still pulling from beloved stories like “Dune” and old Westerns, with a very Saharan/Arabic influence thrown in. When Amani meets a fugitive boy named Jin, they run off in search of Jin’s friends leading a rebellion against the sultan of the land. I won’t spoil much, but their travels do lead them on some harrowing expeditions, magical places, and teaches them a little about love, too. To sum it up, this is a mix-up of Arabic Mythology, gunslinging Westerns, love, the search for acceptance, and much more.
Despite covering a relatively “cookie cutter” plot design of adventure, the book executes it flawlessly, with some added twists to keep you guessing, making for a completely original storyline. It’s a great transition from more preteen reads to proper YA fiction. With the added promise of additions to series, I can’t wait for more works by Hamilton to continue the story and find out what happens to Amani and Jin next!4.5-5 stars
VP of the iWRITE Youth Club
6-time published short story author