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Mini Reviews: Fan Favorites That Fell Flat for Me ⇉ Rebel of the Sands & Steelheart

Monday, February 26, 2018
Have you ever read a book that everyone seemed to be raving about, but you just didn't enjoy it as much as you thought you would?

Rebel of the Sands and Steelheart are books that I've seen a lot of rave reviews for. While I enjoyed them, I didn't love them. Following are the reasons why.

Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mythical beasts still roam the wild and remote areas, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinn still perform their magic. For humans, it’s an unforgiving place, especially if you’re poor, orphaned, or female.

Amani Al’Hiza is all three. She’s a gifted gunslinger with perfect aim, but she can’t shoot her way out of Dustwalk, the back-country town where she’s destined to wind up wed or dead.

Then she meets Jin, a rakish foreigner, in a shooting contest, and sees him as the perfect escape route. But though she’s spent years dreaming of leaving Dustwalk, she never imagined she’d gallop away on mythical horse—or that it would take a foreign fugitive to show her the heart of the desert she thought she knew.

What was most interesting to me was how this book touches on the subject of what it means to be human. There was a lot of potential to explore this topic with the conflict brewing in Miraji and with the existence of the djinn (and their relationships with mortals). There are also elements of religion in the book, but there is a strong leaning towards atheistic themes, irreverence towards the country's gods, and the empowerment of humans. While it does reflect a growing trend in literature, it does get old, especially if that's the only perspective given. I would have liked to see more complexity in the world building. (For the most part, we only get the main characters' perspective).

The plot was predictable, no real surprises. The MC also shows inconsistencies in character that suggest that, while she is largely independent, she's easily influenced by her emotions, which is particularly noticeable when she's in love. I would have liked to see more development of the character and why she is the person that she is at the time of this novel, but the inconsistencies in character didn't detract too much from the read.

While it's not a particularly memorable read for me, it stays true to what it is: a YA fantasy with a good dose of romance. If you're looking for an easy read with a straightforward plot, I would recommend this book. Though the world is still underdeveloped (hopefully, more complexity is added with the later books), it is an interesting world to visit. That said, I don't anticipate reading book two anytime soon.


Publication Info
  • Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton
  • Published by Viking
  • On March 8, 2016
  • Genres: Fantasy
  • Pages: 316 Pages
  • Format: Hardback
    1. Rebel of the Sands
    2. Traitor to the Throne
    3. Hero at the Fall
        • Kissing
        • Violence

        Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

        Nobody fights the Epics...nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

        And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

        He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

        Recently, I found out about Brandon Sanderon's Mistborn and Stormlight Archive series. At heart, I'm a fantasy lover and have been looking for books to return to my (reading) roots. I've purchased The Way of Kings off Amazon and, while waiting for its arrival, decided to read Steelheart (since it was available for digital loan from my local library).

        Since Steelheart is a YA novel, I understand that the characters and world building won't be as intricately developed as Sanderson's longer fantasy works. However, the characters were static. While we learn more about them as the novel progresses, I didn't see much character growth. Events were predictable for the most part and didn't flow into one another smoothly, though the time skips are understandable given all the waiting that must happen. What kept me turning the pages was my desire to learn why Steelheart bled and how the MC will get him to bleed again.

        Overall, Sanderson has created an interesting world that explores the effects of possessing ultimate power: what it does to an individual's personality, moral code, and attitude towards others. And how their treatment of others will influence the world. I'm not in a hurry to read book two, but I do expect to read it one day in anticipation of how the Reckoners will change the world.


        Publication Info
        • Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson
        • Published by Delacorte BFYR
        • On September 24, 2013
        • Genres: Science Fiction
        • Pages: 384 Pages
        • Format: Ebook
          Series: Reckoners
          1. Steelheart
          2. Firefight
          3. Calamity
              • Violence

              CHAT WITH ME

              What are books that you've heard rave reviews about but didn't enjoy?

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