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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

What strengths do you possess that you are overlooking?

Credit: Penguin Random House

Herein lies the basis for Rebel of the Sands. Having been born and raised in the boring, law-abiding town of Dustwalk, Amani sets out to risk her life savings in order to win a shooting contest in the neighboring town, Deadshot. When her plan doesn't materialize as she had expected, Amani is forced to face the prospect of marriage with uncle Asid.

Alwyn Hamilton writes a compelling story; frontloading it with unexplained beings and phenomena. Not having every detail spelled out creates a refreshing story that moves the reader to turn pages anticipating further understanding of Amani's surroundings and upbringing. An example is Amani's observation upon entering Dustwalk:

"[The nomad] should've known better than to think desert dwellers would believe Djinn bled anything other than pure fire."

The plot continuity is above par. In the nascent stages of the book, interpretations of events end up closely resembling the actual cause of those events as later revealed:

"Or the wilder rumors claimed it was a First Being. A Djinni striking Sazi down for its sins."

The writing is a style that could be described as "tactile". Almost every event in the plot progression is given a full-bodied view of the entire surroundings. The reader can't help but be drawn into Amani's desert world as she comes across a Buraqi:

"Shifting from bright gold to violet red, fire and sun in a windswept desert."

Although the first act may carry on longer than necessary, the story soon after picks up speed. Acts two becomes a better, faster read. The story continues to gain momentum when Amani discovers beings she never knew existed. Once feeling like an outsider looking in, she suddenly feels a close connection to her new-found purpose:

"The night and the colors and the laughter and the sense of power and certainty in what they were doing intoxicated me."

Overall, Rebel of the Sands is a book worth reading. It may have a slow start, but the intensity quickly picks up with a credible cast supporting Amani helping her in her quest to find out what she really is.