I've been wanting to read Alwyn Hamilton's REBEL OF THE SANDS since it was announced. (Really: her announcement was at the top of Publisher's Weekly's deal announcements the same week mine was announced. It was hard not to notice!)
So I was not unnaturally thrilled at a chance to read an ARC--and I loved it just as much as I hoped I would. Alwyn's world--a desert kingdom inspired by Arabian culture with religious links to the First Beings (djinn and other mystical creatures)--is so vivid. But it's not an easy world, and for Amina, a sixteen-year-old orphan living in Dustwalk, in the middle of nowhere, all she wants to do is get out. Her opportunity comes in the unlikely form of a boy named Jin, who's wanted by the Sultan's soldiers. But as Amina gets farther from the world she was born to and learns more about the politics destroying her native land and the rebellion growing to change that, the more she begins to question who she really is--and what she wants.
I loved this book--I loved Amina's strength, and Jin's humor (even when it got him in trouble. Or maybe especially then). I adored the setting, how I could imagine riding through the night across a Nightmare-haunted desert. The story is wonderfully paced too. It has all my favorite things: a unique setting, a powerful romance, and terrifying and powerful creatures. Really, a book for all YA fantasy readers to enjoy.