Oh action. The eternal thrill of the chase, the ever guessing of who will pull the trigger first, the heroes, the villains, the battles. You know when you read a book and know there will be action scenes, but you read about 300 pages before anything really happens. Not that thats bad because I am a huge fan of story development. But Alwyn Hamilton has a way of developing the story while making each and every page a page turner. I am not kidding when I say there wasn’t a boring page in this book. There was always something going on and something to keep me entertained and focused, fantasy, magical beings, fights, and so on. However, even though it kept me going there were a few negatives such as connection to the romantic relationship between Amani and Jin and the feeling of confusion about the world and legends when they were placed into the story at times. Despite the negatives though, I enjoyed this fast paced journey beginning to end and I also loved the female empowerment this book boasted!
“The world makes things for each place. Fish for the sea, Rocs for the mountain skies, and girls with sun in their skin and perfect aim for a desert that doesn’t let weakness live.”
She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani can’t wait to escape from.
Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, 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.
When I first started the book I have to admit I was pretty confused on the world and the legends within the world. I knew the main character Amani lived in a desert middle eastern region and there were different beliefs about their gods and first beings. But making it all work seemed a little jumbled and I found I really needed to be paying attention so that I didn’t miss any details. Otherwise I would have been very confused about who was king or what rebellion was going on or what legends were what, etc. Once I got more into the story though and more settled with the lay out I found myself getting really into it. I loved that this was a more unique world than ones I have read about recently and I did think it was beautifully developed. I could visualize all the sand and at times I swear I could feel the heat of the desert radiating from the pages. I also liked all the fantasy elements of the Djinn and mythical beings, although I do wish we saw more from them through out the story, but I think we will in the books to come.
Amani is a brave, strong, and determined young girl. She gives any girl hope that they can live a better life and can do anything a man can do, if not better. I loved her growth through this book and that she didn’t need titles to define her. They only shaped her and encouraged her. The idea of this strong female lead thats finding herself is a bit cliche but it’s a young adult book and quite frankly I enjoy when the book is more focused on the girls own strength and growth than relying on others or being a damsel in distress. I also enjoyed her romantic counter part Jin. I thought he was funny and kind but I did feel he sort of lacked in connecting with me as a reader. I didn’t fully love their love story. But I am not sure that is totally a bad thing. Whereas in most YA books, the girl falls in love with the guy right away, this was a journey with well defined time lapse that allowed the reader to believe the timing of the relationship. It wasn’t as if one day they met and the next they loved each other. It was slow and progressed well with the story. I just feel that since Jin didn’t have enough character, as a reader I felt he lacked in comparison to Amani and therefore I just couldn’t connect to their relationship. The way the story ended though led me to believe I will come to love their love story by the end of the series.
Overall I put this book down excited for the next one. There were small curve balls thrown in through out the book and some I saw coming and others I didn’t. I loved that I kept wanting to turn the page and that I was never bored. Fantasy, action, magic powers, mythical beings, desert worlds, princes and kings all woven together to make a beautiful story that I can’t wait to continue.
“Tell me that and we’ll go. Right now. Save ourselves and leave this place to burn. Tell me that’s how you want your story to go and we’ll write it straight across the sand”