Clover Book Club: Rebel of the Sands
Weekend plans = solved.
At a time when we're being bombarded with bad news (see: now), it can be an enormous relief to read something that's a little magical, completely fantastical, and every bit as distracting as the last Netflix series you binge-watched in a single weekend—pure escapism. That's exactly how picking up Rebel of the Sands feels. Instantly you’re transported to an alternate universe, almost like hopping on a magic carpet (there are no magic carpets in this book, but there are magical horses that turn from sand to wind in a flash).
Everyone can use an inspiring female heroine in her life, and there’s nobody braver—or more badass—than Amani. OK, Katniss maybe comes close. These two protagonists actually have tons in common: they’re both fearless fighters who aren’t afraid to rebel against oppressive governments, even if they might die in the process. Below, see what we thought of our second Clover Book Club selection, then grab a copy for yourself here.
What Casey thinks:
I don't read a lot of fantasy. In fact, my darkest secret is that I've never read the Harry Potter series. All of that's to say I don't often pick up books like Rebel of the Sands, and I'm so thrilled I did. Alywn (a first-time author!) created a fictional world so vivid I felt like I was watching a movie—in fact, sometimes I found myself wishing for a key of all the different characters and tribes and places. Amani, a teen girl and ace sharpshooter who's trying to escape her exceptionally dangerous hometown called Dustwalk, is exactly the kind of hero the world needs right now. Now if we could just figure out which Young Hollywood star is worthy of the role, because one thing’s for sure: There’s no way this won’t be on the big screen within a few years.
What Liza thinks:
The last book I couldn’t put down was The Girls by Emma Cline. So when I opened Rebel of the Sands the following day, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, Alwyn Hamilton’s debut novel was every bit as irresistible as Cline’s (except instead of California cults, this one deals with shape-shifting mythical creatures). Amani's an orphan living with her evil aunt and uncle before she takes off on her own. And while this sounds like a classic fairy tale setup, Alwyn takes the squeaky clean plot and makes it unapologetically gritty: there’s betrayal and violence and dusty Wild West imagery (think saloon shooting contests and run-down desert towns). Because every romance-slash-fantasy novel needs a dark side, right?
What Clover readers think:
Jacinthe L.: I absolutely loved Rebel of the Sands. With the perfect amount of mythology, romance and action, the book blew me away. Amani's character is multifaceted—she knows she must fight for her own survival but struggles on whether to follow her heart or her mind. I can't wait for the sequel.
Jessica C.: I'm currently doing some heavy reading for my AP English class, and this book was a fun, light read. I loved the Middle Eastern setting, and the hints of magical realism. Of course, the book ended with a typical heterosexual romance that was basically established at the beginning, but the interesting plot made up for it.
Alice L.: Rebel of the Sands has such an intriguing concept and plot, and one of my favorite types of protagonists (the badass kind)! I flipped through the pages so quickly, and I was completely hooked until the end.
Elena S.: I liked the character of Amani a lot; she was so cool and strong in a place where women are treated poorly. The mythology aspect was interesting to me since I don't typically read books that involve it, and I appreciated that romance wasn't as huge of a part as it is in some YA novels. This book reminded me of Divergent but it was different and fresh.
Madonna M.: I thought this book was thrilling and adventurous, but the thing that got me the most was the fact that the protagonist was a Middle Eastern woman. As an Arab-American girl myself, I was excited to read the book, and it did not let me down. It's fun when you can see yourself as the character you're reading about.
Elena J.: I read it in two days and I just could not put it down. I've never read a book that contained so much mystery and magic. Amani was such a badass! And while this book had some romance, it never overpowered the main story. Alwyn Hamilton sure knows how to write an amazing story with kickass characters and a storyline that never failed to surprise me.
Zainab J.: I fell in love with the characters and I absolutely cannot wait for the second book to come out! It did indeed give me Divergent feels, but what I really found interesting were the Middle Eastern names for the characters. For example, Amani in Arabic means the plural of dream and wishes, and Jin [the love interest] means demon/devil.