When I go on holiday I always like to treat myself with a couple of new books, and let’s be honest, after trying to organise yourself with packing and spending money a couple of books is low on the list. So, I’m standing in the bookshop in the airport and feeling the pressure to find the last of my offer books.
So I grab Rebel of theSands as it looked ok. I read the back of the book and the first page and just decided it would do, its the offer book so even if its no good, no harm no foul.
Oh how wrong I was.
I struggled through the book that I thought would be good. Once I’d finished that and gave it away for someone else to read, I started on the debut novel from Alwyn Hamilton.
I was gripped instantaneously, which does not happen very often. Books have a tendency to be slow burners, setting the scene and then BAHM, they’ve got you.
However this one, I couldn’t put it down. The need to know what was going to happen next was too strong. I think one of the main reasons is the genius which is the narrative voice of Armani, our young main character. She is a girl in a mans world, so much so that for most of the book she is dressed as a boy so she can travel and be taken seriously. Armani is witty, brave and engaging. She is blunt about the horrors of living in the world that she lives in, but hopeful enough of a better life that it is easy to relate to her.
When I did pick this book up I thought it would be an exotic romance. And of course there is the ‘will they won’t they’ of Armani and Jin which is wonderfully done. However, the book is more about the land and about magic and justice. It is so descriptively wonderful that while reading it I felt like I was in the oppressive desert. (but maybe being on holiday helped that one) As well as having a complex and imaginative fantasy world, the reality of living in an occupied land is also explored. Rape and violence is openly and bluntly talked about as a matter of everyday life. Armani is very aware and fearful of what could happen to her as a woman. This fear and other fears drive her need for a better life and keeps the pace of the narrative going.
I love the slow growing romance of Jin and Armani and they’re witty conversations are a joy to read. This whole book is powerful and engaging, with just the right amount of magic and reality. A real coming of age and finding your place in the world, I am desperate for the next book to come out.