Mini-Review Monday: Rebel of the Sands

I have mixed feelings towards this novel. I will begin with listing the positive aspects I enjoyed, then will follow it with the issues I had. I adored the amount of strong female characters in this novel. There was not one simpering female in sight. That was exceptionally refreshing in a sea of YA novels where the females are weak and wait on a male to rescue them. I also loved all of the female relationships. There were plenty of females that created deep, lasting bonds with one another. There was not a catty rivalry included for once! The worst female character would be Amani's cousin. She was the only jealous character and the only one who fell into the stereotypical mean girl character. Hala was rude to everyone, not just our MC, so I did not count that as a catty rivalry. Also she seemed to care deep down. Even the men in the novel did not fall into the overprotective trope. It was nice to see male characters who were fine with allowing the female take care of herself, and trusted in her abilities. Both Jin and the Rebel Prince did exceptional at this, including the Prince having a female as his general. The only time and person either became protective with was their younger sister. Even that was not in the borderline abusive way protection is depicted in a lot of YA, it was in a true, brotherly manner.

I had several major issues with the novel. One of the biggest, for me, was the romance. There was absolutely zero chemistry between Amani and Jin. The reader knew basically immediately that Jin would be the love interest. Instead of taking time to build the relationship, we got fluttery feelings and six weeks of a dessert trip cut. As a result, the relationship did not feel genuine. While it thankfully was not insta-love, for all of the development the reader was able to witness, it may as well have been. This was sad since Jin was actually a decent male character. While relatively shallow and not incredibly dynamic, he at least had strong positive attributes. Another major issue was the theme in the novel. The mix of Western, Middle Eastern folklore/fantasy, and steam punk did not work. It was too many ideas for one story. The Western and folklore, in particular, did not mesh well together. Personally, I am not a huge fan of western's so the fact that the majority of the novel had that feel was disappointing. I was hoping for more fantasy and folklore. The final issue I had was with character development. Most characters were incredibly superficial. Only the MC had flaws, and even she did not have many realistic ones. Each character seemed too perfect, particularly for the setting. I hoped to see more well rounded characters and was disappointed it did not have that.
I did read the sequel hoping for more fantasy. My review for it will be next week's mini review. Did this novel let anyone else down or did it live up to all of the hype? Let me know in the comments below!