Plot: Amani has two choices in her dusty, desert, gun-toting town: stay and marry her uncle or her best friend, or travel to the big city where her aunt lives with a mysterious foreigner on a wild, magical horse. Amani, forever the big dreamer, the best sharpshooter in the Last County, chooses the latter. She and Jin, the handsome foreigner, travel across the desert, find a caravan and get taken off course from Amani’s dreams of going to the big city. As Amani begins to realize that the magical tales she was told as a child are actually more than true, she finds herself torn between helping herself find her aunt, or helping a rebel prince take the kingdom from a vicious Sultan with a dangerous, secret weapon. Always thinking for herself, will Amani take the easy way out, or finally decide to think about someone else for a change?
Review: If we’re being totally honest here, and let’s be real this is my blog so I’m gonna be honest, this was just a typical YA novel. First person and female protag, sexy male love interest, an adventure, things go wrong, drama, etc, etc. However, that doesn’t mean that it was a bad read! I thoroughly enjoyed every page of this. I loved that the setting wasn’t the typical setting that you see in YA novels. The time frame of when exactly this takes place was the only confusing thing to me. They’re in Northern Africa, probably close to Egypt, but they have gun factories and trains. It sort of felt like a Western, just in a different desert.
The writing reminded me surprisingly of my own, which, I’m not gonna lie, made me a little excited and gave me a boost in confidence. A small boost, but one none-the-less. Some of the lines within the writing really packed a punch, and if I were a tagging person, I would be able to write some of these down but alas I don’t tag my books. Just trust me…there is some really great imagery and similes in here.
The main character I really wanted to like, but she wasn’t very likable. She was both a little flat, and a little too selfish for me to truly enjoy reading. She got a bit better in the last quarter of the book but she definitely was not one of those protags that you want to take home and wrap in blankets and give tea to. I think that’s actually a positive though; if you like every protag of every book you read, there’s no excitement. I didn’t hate Amani, that’s for sure, but she didn’t stand out to me any more than any other of the characters in the book.
And yes, through all of the typical YA tropes, I knew just about every “twist” before it happened, except for a small one near the very end. I like being at least a little surprised when I read a book, so that was great for me. It was a very quick read and I would recommend this to anyone who wants a quick YA read without a sappy romance that’s set in a place not often represented in fiction, especially YA.