A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Fantasy meant to entertain.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Several kisses described vaguely.
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"Hell," "whore," "ass," "son of a bitch," "goddammit," and "damn."
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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.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.