Publisher: Viking Books
Date of Publication: March 8th, 2016
Dates Read: January 19th – March 16, 2017
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.
Edit: I have since learned that this book uses negative stereotypes and has hurt people. I encourage you to check out Fadwa of Word Wonders’s review, which discusses the problems with this book.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. First of all, I must say that I kinda like this whole Western-meets-fantasy vibe that the book’s got going on. It was pretty unique to me, and it made for an interesting, wide world.
So yeah, the world building was pretty neat.
I also really liked our main characters, Amani and Jin. Amani is snarky, independent, but wholly human. She is not perfect, though her shooting is, and when she messes up she acknowledges it, even if only to herself. Jin is swoon-worthy but he’s also got his own personalities and characteristics, his own story, so he’s much more than just the love interest. Together they make a great duo, between their banter, planning, and cooperation.
I did find that I was a bit confused by what was happening in the beginning, but soon enough I was on board for the ride. There were some small but effective twists and turns to keep the story interesting and not easy for the main characters, but there was always enough hope in the story to keep me reading. Of course, the sexism in some cities was infuriating, but Amani and all the other kick-butt ladies in this book surely proved all those men wrong. I’m excited to read and learn more about these wonderful ladies in the next book!
With all of these great aspects, though, it did lose one star. There did seem to be an awful lot of characters, and while they were all really interesting, it was hard to keep track of them. In addition, there was a point where 2 months passed between two paragraphs. I wish those 2 months had been expanded upon, had more detail written about them. I would have liked to have seen Jin & Amani get closer, to see their relationship develop instead of it just happening between the lines. It could also be hard to imagine the layout of the world, and I think a map would be nice, especially for people like me who are geographically challenged.
And I will wholly admit that this is another book where the girl is secretly special but doesn’t know it, even though she’s so strange compared to the people in her town. Where she meets a boy and eventually because of him finds out what makes her special. If you’re tired of those stories, this book might not be for you. In this case, I think Hamilton’s writing won me over enough for me to overlook some of the clichés. Seriously, her writing was lovely and really vibrant and descriptive.
Overall: A fun read with beautiful descriptions and interesting world.