Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
Publisher: Viking Children’s
Published: March 2016
Genre: young adult, fantasy
Summary: Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him, or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.
Mini Review: Everything that didn’t work for me could very well be the Golden Words another reader seeks in a book. I adored the Middle Eastern-inspired aspect of this fantasy (the Buraqi, the landscape, the history), but did not care for the gun-slinging Old West vibe (which I wasn’t keen on in the first place). I liked how badass Amani was, yet at the same time I felt as if I didn’t know her well enough to feel a deep connection to her character, one that singles her out among the other YA fantasy female protagonists. I liked how intricately plotted this was, but on the other hand I felt this was more plot-driven than character-driven (and I’m very much a character-driven reader).
This qualifies as book 3 of 5 of the “Flights of Fantasy” Challenge, hosted by Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books and Rachel @ Hello, Chelly.
This book also qualifies as book 3 of 10 library books in 2016.
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Published: May 2015 (ppbk)
Genre: young adult, contemporary
Summary: Before Sloane, Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, and she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—someone who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. There’s just a random to-do list with thirteen bizarre tasks that Emily would never try. But what if they can lead her to Sloane? Getting through Sloane’s list will mean a lot of firsts, and with a whole summer ahead of her—and with the unexpected help of the handsome Frank Porter—who knows what she’ll find.
Mini Review: Morgan Matson is another auto-buy/auto-read author for me. Her books tend to be summer-themed with strong friendships at the heart of the story. Though this friendship felt more one-sided to me throughout most of the book, it was still a friendship that propelled Emily’s character growth in a natural way. Without Sloane’s list, Emily would’ve sat at home, bored to tears. This list kicked her butt into gear and created a whirlwind, adventurous summer! What was great about the list (I’m a huge fan of lists) is that even though it’s definitely meant to bring Emily out of her shell and explore, it doesn’t seem outrageous or forced. The cute romance on the side was unassuming, too, and blossomed naturally. Check out my full review (and ice cream and playlist!) over on Lindsey’s blog, Bring My Books!
This book qualifies as book 3 of 12 of the “Rock My TBR” Challenge, hosted by Sarah @ The YA Book Traveler, in an effort to read more books off my overflowing TBR bookcase.
8 thoughts on “Mini Reviews V”
I’ve heard nothing but amazing thing about Morgan Matson’s books, but somehow never read any of it XD I’ve also read some review that basically says the same thing as yours, that the western element in Rebel of the Sands wasn’t interesting enough. Great review!
Like I said, she and Emery Lord and Gayle Forman and Rainbow Rowell are The It Ladies for me. Really great contemporary YA authors.
I’ve heard other reviewers say they really loved the western element, so I guess it’s all about taste! Works for some, not for others. I’ve never been much of a western fan anyway, so *shrugs* Give it a shot! Might be for you.
I felt the same way about Amani as you did. I got to the end of the book and tried to think of how to describe her and had a hard time doing so. The plot also seemed super rushed.
I agree. Great concept, poor execution.
Alexa S. (@alexalovesbooks)
I’m sorry to hear you didn’t quite enjoy Rebel of the Sands! I really liked the combination of Middle Eastern and Western overall. I am, however, really glad to hear you loved Since You’ve Been Gone! That book was so, so lovely, and I definitely loved it too.
Morgan Matson is always a winner with me! She’s going to become a YA contemporary classic like Sarah Dessen.
Morgan @ Gone with the Words
I’ve seen mostly positive reviews of Rebel of the Sands so yours intrigues me and makes me think I might agree with you when I finally read it. I’m not a huge fan of Old West settings and as much as I love a great plot I need to feel connected to the characters.
So glad you enjoyed Since You’ve Been Gone! I love lists too and really liked how it mixed in with the plot. Plus Frank is wonderful.
Holler when you’ve read Rebel of the Sands. I’d love to talk about it!