Rebel of the Sands

Rebel of the Sands main

Rebel of the Sands
Alwyn Hamilton2 stars

Spoiler Rating, Overall: Low-Moderate
Spoiler Rating, Last Three Points: High

Best Ashers,

Unfortunately, Rebel of the Sands (which smooshes together the Old American West and an ambiguously-religioned Middle East) wasn’t the engrossing read I’d hoped for. I actually found it fairly dull, and riddled with silly plot points and shallow character development—but it had a spark in both its main characters and its basic concept that kept me reading, so three cheers for that.

I’ll try to minimize the spoilers throughout most of this critique, but be warned: there’ll be spoilers galore in the last three points in my Criticism section (“Pacing,” “Specific Plot Points” and “Amani-Related Things“). I’ll put another spoiler warning before I dive into them, don’t worry.


Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

Rebel of the Sands reveals what happens when a dream deferred explodes—in the fires of rebellion, the smolder of romantic passion, and the all-consuming inferno of a girl finally, at long last, embracing her power.

I wish I had a map to show you. How on earth does this book not have a map?


Amani — a young Mirajin sharpshooter who’s all grit and sly commentary. Born and raised in Nowheretown, Death Desert, she has a desert kid’s outlook on life: (a) the weak die, and (b) you gotta look out for yourself.

Jin — a mysterious young man from the east, who takes pity on Amani and helps her begin her journey. He’s being hunted by the Mirajin Sultan’s army for an unspecified offense. (Possibly “unlawful hotness.”)

Prince Ahmed — the rebel prince, and rightful heir to his father’s throne. He has dreams of gender equality and racial equality and peaceful democracy (I guess?), and is scraping together a happy band of (mostly teenage) rebels to overthrow the Sultan and make it happen.

Commander Naguib — a young man in the Sultan’s army, whose primary goals in life are sneering the perfect sneer and spitting in Prince Ahmed’s face (preferably at the same time).


The Voice

The story’s narrated from Amani’s first-person perspective, and she starts out with a seriously strong narrative voice. Check this out:

Delightful as Amani’s voice is in the beginning, I got a little tired of it after a couple chapters, so I was relieved when the Old American West accent eased up without losing its vividness:

Sure, I would’ve preferred a perfectly consistent voice throughout, but I’ll applaud the book’s attempt at a strong voice nonetheless.

Amani and Jin

It’s not the most compelling romance I’ve ever read, but I did love the combination of Amani’s fierce “it’s me or the world, and I’m choosing me” attitude and Jin’s calmer “try not to do anything rash, but when you inevitably do, I’ll be there to help you out” perspective.

The Immortal Desert Horses

You won’t be surprised to hear that I loved the immortal desert horses—their creation myth, the process required to capture them, their abilities, all of it.

This is, um, a remarkably short praise section for a book I’m ultimately giving two stars.


I’d like to not ramble for hours, so let me just cover the most significant criticisms.

Cultural Blending

I’m not really comfortable with how the book blended a vaguely Middle Eastern culture with Old American West culture, for a few reasons:

  1. The book seemed to only use Middle Eastern-ish elements that (a) offered a dash of “exotic flavor” (some words and names, the mythology, etc.) or (b) portrayed Middle Eastern-ish culture in a terrible way (such as the horrifying misogyny, which leads towns to stone girls and women to death for any perceived sexual impurity). As far as I saw, the book doesn’t offer any other type of Middle Eastern-ish elements.
  2. On the other hand, the book’s Old American West elements were mostly there for the cool/badass factor: gunslinging, action scenes on speeding trains, run-down saloons, etc.
  3. No in-world explanation was given for how Middle Eastern-ish culture blended with Old American West culture, so I’m left to assume there is no in-world logic for it. The book needed a unique cultural blend to be cool and marketable, so it just chose these two particular cultures because, uh, they share a deserty climate, I guess?

Cultural blending can be really neat, but to do it well (and sensitively) requires a lot of care and world-building. This book, in my opinion, failed both the “do it well” and “do it sensitively” parts.


And no, the world-building isn’t great either, as I immediately suspected upon seeing the heroine’s surname: Al’Hiza.

I’m not an Arabic speaker, but as far as I know, the apostrophe is the English notation of a specific letter—hamza, the glottal stop—and it has zero reason to be in Amani’s surname. The name should be spelled as either Al-Hiza or Al Hiza.

If no one bothered to research how to correctly spell the heroine’s own last name, it seemed likely that little/no research was done for the world-building, period. And yeah, my suspicion seemed justified. We have almost no grasp at all on Amani’s culture except that:

  • some people pray at regular intervals throughout the day,
  • women are treated like property/shit,
  • racism is alive and well,
  • they’re ruled by a tyrannical sultan.

Not exactly the elaborate world-building I’d have hoped for.

Amani’s Modern Attitude and Culturelessness

Now, I love a strong feminist heroine, but Amani’s particular expression of feminism felt out of place in her setting—like a 21st century teen punk rock feminist who time-traveled back several centuries and was dropped into a deeply misogynistic culture.

Her culture values a woman’s virginity, silence, and obedience over anything else she is capable of, and Amani consistently responds to this by holding up both middle fingers, shouting obscenities at the top of her lungs, then proceeding to do whatever the hell she wants.

I saw zero indication that Amani was connected to her own culture at all, which was really disappointing. Well-written characters should feel like products of their own societies and times, not like they were ripped out of a completely different world and plopped down into the story, like Amani was.

The Pacing

Good lord, the pacing was slow. 

But first: spoiler warning! I won’t give major spoilers for the plot in this section, but if you don’t want to hear anything at all about the plot, skip the rest of this review and go straight down to the “In Closing” section.

Vague spoilers, AVERT THINE EYES.

Ready? Good.

Amani’s primary goal is to get the hell out of her hometown, Dustwalk. She succeeds about a quarter of the way into the book, and after that, she has no major goals.

Sure, she dreams of going to the capital city and living with her aunt (whom she’s never met or corresponded with), but she easily ditches that idea when she realizes Jin’s too hot to say goodbye to. And sure, she has a few (sometimes interesting) short-term goals, but for the most part she’s just . . . traveling. Taking life and its individual challenges as they come.

Jin, meanwhile, has a Super Secret Mission that he won’t tell Amani about. His secrecy and the mere fact that he’s trying to accomplish Unknown Things is a stark contrast to Amani’s goalless traveling. (Sound familiar?)

She doesn’t find out about the Super Secret Mission until a hundred pages before the end of the book—and then she doesn’t get actively involved in the Mission until sixty pages before the book ends. Sixty.

Specific Plot Points


This book had a lot of dumb plot points. For the sake of space and time, I’ll give you only two.

1. The Immortal Desert Horse

While she’s plotting her escape from Dustwalk, Amani captures an immortal desert horse that can travel significantly faster than a mortal horse. So does she ride it all the way to the big city (covering the distance in days instead of weeks), then sell it in the city for an exorbitant amount of money, and use that money to set herself up in her new home?

No. Of course not.

She rides it to the nearest little town with a train station, where she sells the horse for half what it’s worth, and buys a train ticket to the capital city. The train ticket is so expensive, by the way, that it almost bankrupts her.

Why did she make such a stupid decision?

The answer (oh god when will I get a chance to stop complaining about this) is because the story wouldn’t have worked if she’d ridden her magical horse straight to the capital. So the book made Amani dumb for the sake of months of boring desert travel and the opportunity for Amani to join Prince Ahmed’s rebellion. Great.

2. The Rebellion’s Plans

First, some background. Decades ago, when the current Sultan of Miraji was still just a prince, he turned to the vaguely French-ish kingdom of Galla for help overthrowing his father and placing himself on the throne. Galla agreed, so long as they could maintain a military presence in Miraji, and the new Sultan became their primary weapons supplier.

In the present, the Sultan wants to kick the Gallan military out of Miraji—but he also wants to avoid starting a war. So he’s started using his secret superweapon (that can burn whole cities to ash) against Gallan military garrisons, and blaming the Rebel Prince Ahmed for the destruction. The Sultan hopes to just . . . kill all the Gallan soldiers in his country, and then cross his fingers that the Gallan king doesn’t send more to replace them, I guess?

This is ridiculously dumb.

The rebels also want to kick the Gallan military out of Miraji, but they fear that the Sultan’s plan—which entails blowing up some Mirajin towns that are hosting Gallan soldiers—will have too high a civilian death toll.

So they decide to spark a war between Galla and Miraji, because a war would distract the Sultan and make it easier to kill him, and would also reduce the number of Mirajin casualties.

. . .

I repeat: in order to reduce Mirajin casualties, they instigate a war.

I repeat: because the Sultan will be easier to assassinate if he’s distracted by a war.

Sure, everyone knows that wars don’t actually kill people, and also wartime is when security around a country’s ruler is the most lax and assassins are most likely to succeed.


Amani-Related Things

I’ll just mention two things here, too.

1. Devotion to the Rebellion

Amani (eventually) arrives in the rebellion’s secret headquarters, meets Prince Ahmed, and asks him about his rebellion. He replies (in essence), “I’m all about gender equality and racial equality and democracy and justice.”

The chapter (and his very brief explanation of his cause) concludes:

And thus, Amani becomes a follower of the rebellion, I guess? Is that what “the harder it was not to believe him” means?

I ask this because she seems to be (tepidly) converted without any follow-up questions for him. Without any discussion of how he—and his tiny group of rebels, most of whom seem to be teenagers—intends to take down both the Gallan occupiers and the Sultan himself. Without any snorting at the prince’s naive idealism. Without any skepticism that the prince can in fact bring equality and democracy and justice to what is, by all accounts, a terribly misogynistic and racist culture traditionally ruled by a tyrant.

This lack of critical thinking on her part seems really weird.

Amani then spends some time (days?) floating around the camp and casually picking up tidbits of info about the prince and the rebels, but she never shows a real interest in the rebellion. So I’m surprised when Jin asks her if she wants to officially join the rebellion, and she thinks:

So, uh, she feels a powerful need to be part of the rebellion? Since when? What drives it? Is it the misogyny/gender-equality stuff? Is it Jin? Or is it merely (as she did briefly mention earlier on) that it’s kind of cool knowing that she’s watching history being made?

The reader should clearly understand the protagonist’s reasons for shouldering the responsibility of their goal/mission—and this book seems to have forgotten that very important aspect of storytelling.

2. Amani’s Unrealistic Internal Conflict

This is the one that killed me.

Amani is a total badass, until the rebels tell her she’s a Demdji—the offspring of a human woman and an immortal Djinni father—and they hope to use her magic powers for the cause. Alas, she doesn’t know what those powers are, and even a week under the guidance of other Demdji doesn’t reveal what they could be.

So does she shrug and get back to practicing with her guns, because she already knows she’s got the guts and cunning and skill to be of use to the rebellion? Does she remind herself that she’s the Blue-Eyed Bandit, the best gunslinger in the desert, and an asset to any team looking for trouble?

No. She mopes about how she’s the only Demdji in the world without magic powers, and therefore she’s useless and worthless.

Who is this Amani and what did you do with the other one? I want the other one back.

Fortunately, Jin (who, by the way, is Prince Ahmed’s brother) gets as sick of her shit as I do, and tells it to her straight.

God bless you, Jin.

This could’ve been a genuinely interesting internal conflict for Amani (who otherwise doesn’t have much internal or external conflict going on), if it didn’t come so completely out of the blue—if, for example, she’d been struggling all along with self-esteem issues or concern about her self-sufficiency or her ability to contribute to a team.

But nope. She spent the entire book as a 100% capable and confident badass, until she abruptly decides she’s worthless. Sorry, but realistic internal conflict needs a better set-up than that.


As far as Middle-Eastern-ish YA fantasy novels go, at least this one didn’t piss me off as much as The Wrath and the Dawn. So that’s good.

But if you’re looking for a vaguely Middle-Eastern-ish fantasy with magic and war and a sexy king, read The Blue Sword.

If you’re looking for a more intense political fantasy that blends Middle Eastern and Western cultures (but on opposing sides of a war, not quite in a unified culture), check out The Lions of Al-Rassan.

If you’d like a spunky narrator whose spunkiness fits more naturally in their (non-modern) culture, maybe try The Thief.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t read Rebel of the Sands; maybe you’d like it better than I did. I just wish I’d spent those hours reading something better.



67 thoughts on “Rebel of the Sands

  1. I think you are my book review soul mate. This review made me laugh out loud several times. I read this book awhile back and have a review scheduled later in the month for it. After reading this one, mine seems lame cause yours perfectly captured what I felt. And there was so much squeeing about how wonderful this book was. For a book that I enjoyed reading, I disliked so much about it. Weird really. I will still post my review of course but will link to your review in my post cause to me this one was perfect!
    x The Captain

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man, I’m so glad to hear you liked this review; I spent over a month tinkering with it, and still wasn’t quite pleased when I posted it this morning. If there’s one drawback to writing posts weeks or months in advance, it’s that I have that much more time to fuss over how imperfect it is before it gets posted! Are you the same way? Hopefully not.

      Yeah, it’s super weird to enjoy reading a book but dislike a ton of things about it. Better than not enjoying reading it at all, though.

      Can’t wait to read your review! And I’d be ridiculously honored to be linked to in your review, holy crap. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You never fail to make me laugh hahaha.
    I’ve been putting off reading this book for SO long because I’m fearing:
    1- The inconsistencies that would unpleasantly jump to my face as an Arab if there are any
    2- The portrayal of only the bad side of the culture (misogyny and the like)
    Which you said it has a little of both. Oh and you’re right that Al’Hiza is bullshit thank you very much, our names normally written in one of the other ways that you talked about, though more often without the – .
    I’ll read it still, because I’m curious about it but i don’t have very high hopes for it.
    Great review 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hurray! 😀

      Yeah, I don’t blame you for your hesitation; I’d definitely feel the same if I were in your place.

      But I’m incredibly excited to know that you plan to read it, and I’ll be fidgeting impatiently until you’ve written your review. I don’t know nearly as much about Middle Eastern cultures as I’d like, and am dying to see a more informed critique of how the book’s world-building (etc) is handled.

      That’s neat to know, that the “-” isn’t as often used as just a space. You’re teaching me stuff already. 😀

      Keep me posted on your plans to read the book, so I can keep my fidgets under control!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hahaha! I’ll try to get to it soon then. You know that I -not so- secretly like to criticize, though I don’t know if I’ll hate it, I’m sure I won’t like it as much as other people. Just the fact that you knew to point out inaccuracies shows that you already know more than most people, that’s good!
        I’m happy to help whenever you want to know more even though I don’t know everything there is to know.
        Will do! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aaaah I can’t wait! 😀

        If you’re willing to put up with my occasional culture-related questions, I’d be so happy. Thank you for the offer! I’ll try not to be a nuisance about it. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not going to lie, I was actually curious about this book and then all of the praise started coming in and it put me off. When the majority loves it, I’m usually the black sheep. Lol. It was so great to see an honest review on it and I applaud you. This was a great review. I’m still not sure what to think of this book but I do kind of want to read it now. I like a good rage read session every once in a while. Lol.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, there’s something about universal praise that’s deeply suspicious. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who backs away slowly from books with super-high ratings. 🙂

      Thank you so much! I’m glad you liked it, and that it made you more inclined to give the book a try. I’d absolutely love to hear what you think of it. Hopefully it’ll be exactly the rage (or at least arragavation) read you’re looking for! 😀


  4. I had a feeling this one was all cover. Anytime the cover is that beautiful I can’t help but wonder if the book is any good. I’m doing a post about 10 blogs everyone should follow and naturally, you’re on my list. Do you mind if I link this review and one of your ToG read alongs that crack me up? Your posts are too good not to share. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Awesome! Thanks! I figured I would ask first. I’m glad you said yes because I already copied some of my favorite links. I think everyone should get a chance to read your posts. Your ToG posts make me laugh so hard. I was just telling someone about your socks. I want them. 😉 I’ll probably post it on Monday or Tuesday.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Haha! You’re not allowed to die. Who will make me laugh? 😊 Where did you get those socks? They’re like every cranky persons dream come true. Lol. I like the idea of wearing them around people that annoy me. It could be like my own inside joke. I’m so evil. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your reviews never fail to make me laugh! Rebel of the Sands really does sound like a painful read, and the focus on the misogyny present in Middle Eastern culture is a real deal breaker for me, as well the inconsistency with Amani’s character. Frankly, she sounds like a rebel with no aim? Wherever this book is set, and whatever the historical period, she’s not doing a good job of showing us internal conflict. Come on, you expect us to believe she was born with no sense of fear or understanding of her apparent place in this period?
    I’m not so sure about YA books set in the Middle East any more..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahaha, yay! Glad to hear it!

      “Rebel with no aim” is exactly right. That type of heroine is interesting in theory (as a nice contrast to all the heroines who almost single-handedly dismantle their dystopian governments, etc.), and I’d love to see it done well. Maybe one day?

      “Come on, you expect us to believe she was born with no sense of fear or understanding of her apparent place in this period?”

      EXACTLY. You phrased it so much better than I did.

      There don’t seem to be many (any?) good Middle Eastern-ish YA books, that’s for sure. Are there any that you’d recommend, or have they all disappointed you?

      Here’s hoping we soon see a rise in YA authors who are themselves Middle Eastern, so we can read about their culture(s) through their perspective. All my fingers are crossed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A rebel with no aim is genuinely quite useless if you think about it, no? Who’s to say she won’t just change her mind last second. Only thing she’s got going for her is her ‘middle fingers up’ approach to, well, life. Like the author just plucked a rebellious teen from our generation and placed her in a contrasting Middle Eastern fictional(?) land.

        I’m afraid you’ve read more Middle Eastern YA books than me… I haven’t ventured there with my exploratory reading, and frankly I’m quite glad I haven’t 😀 I am writing about Iraq at the moment, but it’s definitely not YA, and the references to the Arabian Nights are allusions. I don’t want it to be a tragic story, I just want it to show what the country had been like once upon a time, before it became what it is now. I want to give a voice to the people suffering, and show that they’re people too. My character Shahrazad is a rebel too, but she’s aware of her place and WHY she’s rebelling.

        I’m genuinely not even close to finishing it, I’ve spent far too much time researching and making notes so it’s historically accurate. Currently I’m making notes on a book called ‘Ancient Iraq’ by Georges Roux which gives a history of all the civilizations that flourished in the land Mesopotamia. My inner perfectionist refuses to start properly writing until I know everything I possibly can, which is why it’s taking me so long 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      2. “Who’s to say she won’t just change her mind last second.”

        Precisely! It’s difficult to get invested in a book’s major conflict when the protagonist herself isn’t convincingly invested in it.

        Your story’s sounding more and more amazing with each little snippet I hear about it. A non-tragic story set in Iraq? A rebel with a cause? An author whose need to be historically accurate gets her sucked deep into research? I’m just about giddy with excitement over here. 😀

        I have the same fun/issue with needing to be historically accurate, too–and not being able to write the story itself because there’s still mountains of research I want to do first. At some point I’ll have to say enough’s enough, and just sit down to write, but the joy of research is addicting.

        Here’s hoping your inner perfectionist is satisfied with your level of research soonish! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yeah, that’s exactly it! *sigh* Which reminds me, I’m on page 40 of The Wrath and the Dawn, and am slightly disappointed already? Shahrzad’s resolve is already weakening. Oh yeah. Not to mention the casual rape scene. Quite frankly, all she’s done so far is throw a bunch of sarcastic remarks out there. I’m won over. Really (!) I am.

        Also, thank you so much! Yeah, it sounds better than it looks, trust me. It’s all a bit of a mess. I’ve somehow researched so much that there’s too much history in my notes. The research is so fun, you’re right! And so time consuming too. Every time I think it’s okay to start writing, I read about another thing I can add … it’s never ending. And yeah, I need to know what you’re writing about! I’ve no doubt it’ll have the best balance of history and plot.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Your review of TWatD is going to be amazing, I know it. 🙂

        Messes are a natural part of the book-shaping process, I think. Not that there aren’t any super-organized writers out there, of course; they just scare me, that’s all. (Kidding, kind of.)

        All of my writing projects are on indefinite hold while I recuperate from some pretty serious Repetitive Stress Injuries to both my hands and arms. The injuries are the main reason why I normally only write two blog posts per month; this read-along thing has been really difficult, physically. But once my hands let me settle back into serious novel-writing, I’ll let you know what I work on! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Oh, I hope so! But it’s got nothing on your review, which was enough to make me never want to read the book (and that speaks volumes)

        Yeah, that’s true I suppose. I would be quite interested to see how other authors plan and write their books. I’ve changed the ending basically 10,000 times, and then I woke up one morning like “yeah, this isn’t going to work” And then LIGHT BULB MOMENT, in which I changed the POV and somehow, somehow, in mysterious ways I won’t understand, everything just came together. So I guess it doesn’t matter if it’s a mess or you have a completely perfect first draft (and if you do, there’s clearly sorcery at play there) as long as the final draft looks how you want it to.

        Also, I’m really sorry to hear about the injuries to your hands and arms. That must be tough! I have actually been wondering for the longest time how you manage to write such long posts and not complain about your hands, because I’d be dying. I’m really looking forward to it!

        Also, must apologise for constantly spamming your comments. I’m sure anyone else reading this is getting a huge insight into our literary endeavors!

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Three cheers for your light bulb moment! That’s such an amazing feeling, when the crucial piece of the story you’ve been sweating over FINALLY clicks into place. I don’t know about you, but that sense of completion and perfection makes me giddy. (Now you’re making me want to ditch my blog and get back to writing. Must . . . resist . . . the urge. *Dies.*)

        Yeah, I try to keep all my hand- and arm-related complaints offline. My family and offline friends get an earful of them, though. Poor things.

        No apologies; your comments make my day, and everyone else should be glad for them, too!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Ha ha! I’m not sure if this is something you’d be interested (because it’s the last thing I’d want to do) but I remember reading that John Milton had a scribe to write Paradise Lost because he was blind. But I could never do that…

        😀 Thank you! I’m literally always laughing thanks to your comments- so don’t stop!

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I pity Milton’s scribe; that sounds like an unpleasant job, transcribing the work-in-process of a perfectionist. I’d have to find someone I both trust completely and don’t care enough about to mind that I’m making their life miserable. Hmmm. I’ll give it some thought.



  6. This review was so brutally honest I loved it!
    I feel like my rating for this book was a bit generous (4/5 stars). I feel like I should lower it to a 3.5 but I don’t really change ratings on a book once I’ve given them one.
    After read The Rebel of The Sands, I was kind of like ‘that’s it?’ It has some alright action from time to time, but it felt like it was lacking and I didn’t feel invested in the characters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 😀

      It’s hard to resist the urge to change ratings after the fact, isn’t it? Every few months I’ll end up raising or lowering a rating by about half a star, but I try not to. Rating can be tough.

      “That’s it?” is exactly how I felt, too–and your explanation of why (meh action, meh characters) is spot on. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like the book very much. Think you’ll read the sequel?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I genuinely loved this review, first off – it had me laughing outloud at least twice. But I really loved it because it kind of confirmed a lot of reservations that I had about Rebel Of the Sands, even after only reading its synopsis. I wasn’t sure I wanted to pick it up, and this has definitely given me a lot to think about!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great analytical review! Sounds like a really interesting concept that didn’t quite deliver. I saw it on amazon and contemplated on reading but now I probably won’t. I like hearing people’s negative reviews on books though!


    1. Thank you! I 100% agree with you: it’s great to read enjoyable reviews of bad (or otherwise uninteresting) books; we can get the gist of the book without having to slog through it ourselves. 🙂


  9. I’m always conflicted when I think about Rebel of the Sands. On the one hand I liked the idea behind it but the execution wasn’t all that great, which you point out in your review.
    It definitely lacks something that could’ve made it shine but I feel like the sequel could be much better. Will you be picking it up?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The idea is really promising, you’re right–promising enough that I probably will pick up the sequel, but not with any haste. How about you? I’d actually probably wait to see what you think of it, first.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You never fail to write fantastic reviews, Liam!

    Rebel of the Sands has been on my TBR list for a while, and I recently purchased it mainly because of its beautiful cover. I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews on this, but there’s a consensus on its slow pacing. I’m not sure how I feel about that since I tend to become impatient with slow books, but I’m going to try to give it the benefit of the doubt when trudging through it.

    A huge reason why I’ve been really looking forward to reading this was because of its Middle Eastern setting. I haven’t read many young adult books with Middle Eastern integration, so it’s disappointing to hear that it’s done poorly.

    I hope that I didn’t buy this book in vain. I’m crossing my fingers that the writing and romance make the book an overall positive read for me. Haha, I’m crossing my fingers very tightly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so sweet. Thank you! 😀

      Its Middle Eastern-ish setting was what made it a Must Read for me, too. One of these days I’ll (and hopefully you’ll) find an absolutely amazing Middle Eastern-ish book. Just gotta keep looking.

      I’ll keep my fingers crossed, too; hopefully you’ll love it for more than just its gorgeous cover. And even if you don’t, it’ll continue to look gorgeous on your shelf!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This review is AMAZING. So detailed and written with so much talent and humour! I haven’t even read the book and I find myself agreeing with basically everything you said – maybe you should lead a rebellion instead! 😂

    This has been on my TBR for a while due to the initial hype, but perhaps I’ll take it off now. It doesn’t sound good enough to pass up other dystopian books for, and some of the sections of the book you posted actually made me feel like the writing isn’t that great?!

    Either way I loved reading this! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!

      Lord, I’d make a terrible rebellion leader; I’m pretty sure the job requires, like, speaking coherently on a dais before thousands of impassioned followeres, and that skill is beyond me. Maybe you should give it a go in my stead?

      Yeah, the writing isn’t superb, and I wish I’d read something else instead–but hey, maybe I’m just being super nitpicky, and you’d love (or at least enjoy) it. If you do decide to read it, let me know so we can compare thoughts! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No worries! 🙂 Hahahaha – my public speaking skills are atrocious, I can’t imagine me inspiring a horde of rebels anytime soon lol!

        No no – I like super nitpicky because it helps me narrow down what I want to read next! But I’m sure I’ll get round to reading it eventually, so when I do I’ll be sure to let ya know what I thought! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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  13. I’ve not read this yet, cos though the cover is lovely, the blurb isn’t really pulling me in- I’ve had a couple of recommendations for it now, but after seeing this, I’m not sure I’m gonna bother. Very funny review though!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve heard so many good things about this book over the last few months, it’s nice to read something a bit more critical! The cultural blending issue is really off putting and I can’t stand slow books so I’ll probably move this down my TBR list for now. Great review, I’m going to have to check out the blue sword now! ♥️😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! 😀

      If you can’t stand slow books, you might have a bit of trouble getting into The Blue Sword at first; it starts with a kind of languid, dreamlike quality, until the heroine gets dragged into the plot a few chapters in. The initial languidness is intentional, I think; the heroine had lived her life in a bland, monotonous way until she’s taken forcibly into a new and very different life, and has to either sink or swim.

      But The Blue Sword is my favorite book of all time (I own every English edition ever printed, with multiple copies of a couple of them; “obsessed” might be the word I’m looking for), and I really hope you enjoy it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t mind as long as it picks up at some point, I just hate spending the whole book waiting for something to happen and then getting to the end and feeling really underwhelmed haha 😛

        Wow that’s really impressive! SOLD, I’ve just ordered it now 😍 thank you for the recommendation, I can’t wait to read it! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  15. This one received SO MUCH hype when it was first released. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like this one either. ): However, I think the reasons that bothered you would catch my notice. Slow pacing is not my friend (and you haven’t been the only one that has expressed this flaw). So I’m going to avoid this one despite the mixed reviews. The cover is very pretty though! And nice critique, as always, Liam! (By the way, I know it looks like I’m purposely not reading/commenting on your ToG readalong discussion posts… but I just haven’t read any Maas yet… 😛 And I’m trying to go into those books without knowing too much.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I obviously don’t think you’re missing much by passing on RotS. It’s a shame it doesn’t live up to its cover! Here’s hoping the sequel is amazing, though. 🙂

      And don’t worry about it! I 100% relate with your desire to go into the books as blind as possible; I skip over reviews of books I already think I’ll love (like The Raven King, the A Darker Shade of Magic series, etc) for exactly that reason. I’ve even avoided reviews of Throne of Glass, to make sure my read-along is strictly informed by my own personal observations. So really, no worries! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Omg, Liam, you need to read the ADSoM trilogy ASAP. A Gathering of Shadows is still probably my favorite book I read this year (I love it more than The Winner’s trilogy if that say something). But yeah, you need to read those books soon so we can fanboy/fangirl together.

        Liked by 1 person

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