- Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
ISBN 978-0-451-47753-8 $18.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 8-10
If the best of the Old West and the coolest parts of Arabian Nights had a baby who then rebelled by going steampunk, the result would be this gem of a book. Amani wants out of her wretched life in the desert, where’s she’s under the thumb of her cruel aunt and uncle. She therefore dresses as a boy and enters a sharpshooter contest just to get enough prize money to escape. Things fall apart in spectacular ways: explosions, armies, horses that emerge out of sand, and Djinn who are being murdered all figure into the plot, along with a juicy detail about Amani’s true identity. It all unfolds with narrator Amani catching up on the fly, and she is so brash and willing to throw herself headlong into everything that readers will be swept along in the incredible adventure. Hamilton doles out the details carefully, and by the end all becomes clear, which is quite a feat given how many elements were thrown into a genre blender and spun around. The menacing foes have depth, the allies are staunch and clever, and Amani is golden, if flawed. The hints of a sequel will undoubtedly have readers crossing their fingers.