Rebel of the Sands

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Rebel of the Sands Book Poster Image
Wild West meets Arabian Nights in exciting fantasy kickoff.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Fantasy meant to entertain.

Positive Messages

Just being born doesn't make you important; it's what you do with yourself and your life. You can make yourself matter by what you do. Don't change for someone else; appreciate your qualities and realize how special you already are.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Amani, 16, changes from someone who doesn't see any point in living if there's nothing better out there and who's focused only on herself to someone who becomes part of a team fighting for something bigger. She chafes against the limited choices available to her in her rigid society and becomes a crack shot with a pistol. Jin proves himself trustworthy and is loyal to his brother and his brother's cause.


Fantasy violence isn't gory but frequently mentions blood. A few mentions of the sound of breaking bones. A few scary or evil fantasy creatures include Nightmares, which jump out of the dark to get you. Fights involve guns, swords, punching, and kicking. Mention of being disciplined with slappings and beatings. Veiled reference to sexual violence when a man tells a woman, "I can make you worthless." A death from being burned by a fantasy creature is briefly described.


Several kisses described vaguely.


"Hell," "whore," "ass," "son of a bitch," "goddammit," and "damn."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Older teens in a fantasy world with no drinking laws sometimes go to taverns and drink or enjoy alcohol on festive occasions. Drinking to excess is mentioned several times; minor consequences such as throwing up mentioned.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Rebel of the Sands is the start of a planned fantasy trilogy with a strong, resourceful female role model who starts to come into her own at the end. Fantasy violence mentions blood a lot but otherwise isn't gory. Nighttime in the desert is very scary; fantasy creatures jump out at you from the dark. Sexual content is mild, with a few kisses described vaguely. Women have no rights in the rigid, frontier-like town, and bad guys exercise their power through marriage and vague, inexplicit threats of sexual violence.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 4, 9, 12, 13, and 15-year-old Written bySarah H. November 3, 2019

Under 12 but Over 15....

I gave this book 4 stars because I thought it was very creative in its world-building and the build up to its bigger plot twists.

CommonSense Media asks for a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byMarla13 November 11, 2020
Teen, 13 years old Written byORPINNERD March 18, 2019

Fantastic Read!

I loved this book. I read it at 12 years old, and it was fine. However, I would recommend people wait until they’re 13 to read this book. There is some light cu... Continue reading

What's the story?

With nothing better to look forward to out of life than an arranged marriage in a tiny backwater town, 16-year-old Amani dreams of brushing the sand off and heading to the big city her mother always talked about. She manages to escape the town with Jin, a mysterious young man they say is a traitor, only to face the hardships of a deadly desert. Can they elude the military hot on their trail and cross the desert safely? And whose side will they join when they meet THE REBEL OF THE SANDS?

Is it any good?

Fantasy lovers will enjoy this exciting kickoff to a planned trilogy that combines the dusty, ramshackle grit of the Wild West with the magic and folklore of the Arabian desert. Teens and tweens will relate to Amani as she chafes against her rigid society's rules and root for the brave, smart-alecky, stubborn teen as she escapes into the adventurous unknown.

Ever-present danger and excitement keep the pages turning, except when, as often happens in the middle of fantasy novels, the story bogs down with overlong exposition. The last third of the book adds a colorful band of rebels, and the ending leaves plenty of room for further adventures.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why fantasy novels are so popular. Why do we love them so much? What does the element of magic add to a story?

  • Does Rebel of the Sands glamorize drinking? Why, and how much, do the teen characters drink? What might be some negative consequences of drinking alcohol in this fantasy world?

  • What do you admire about Amani? What makes her an interesting character? Do you wish you could be like her?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fantasy

Themes & Topics

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