Genre: YA Fantasy
Waterstones Summary: Dustwalk is Amani’s home. The desert sand is in her bones. But she wants to escape. More than a want. A need. Then a foreigner with no name turns up to save her life, and with him the chance to run. But to where? The desert plains are full of danger. Sand and blood are swirling, and the Sultan’s enemies are on the rise.
This was a book I had heard a lot about around it’s release, and one that’s had a huge a promotional campaign. Seriously, you couldn’t walk into a Waterstones around it’s release without seeing tables of this book. A few people I followed had recommended it, so I thought I would give it a go as it was giving me a Walk On Earth A Stranger vibe (a book I love!). Sadly, I had a number of problems with this book.
We’ll start off with the positives though. This book is fast-paced and never slows down for very long. There’s lots of action and dramatic sequences that will keep you on the edge of your seat and plot twists that I didn’t see coming. For that I was entertained, and as a plot-driven book it had a solid story-line. Amani lives in a world that places a lot more value on men than women, and I enjoyed her commentary about what she could do dressed up as a boy that she couldn’t when she dressed as a girl. The world-building was okay, but I didn’t have everything figured out until about 2/3 of the way through which is a little too long in my opinion. It was a bit clunky and I don’t think the Western and Middle Eastern influences merged as well as they could’ve.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing. This might entirely have to do with the fact I had just read Sense and Sensibility which had very long sentences, but the sentences in this book felt very short and abrupt and I didn’t feel like the writing flowed very well. Maybe this was intentional to emphasize the action sequences but for me it just didn’t work. Also, as this book was so plot-driven I felt like the characters were very two dimensional, and despite being in Amani’s head for 300 pages I don’t feel like I know her very well. When the plot did slow down to get to know the characters, the author just introduced lot of new characters and then moved swiftly on with the plot.
As for the romantic plotline, I really just didn’t care. Jin wasn’t anything special in my opinion and I didn’t like that the author told us that they spent lots of time together and got to know each other rather than showed us. It took me out of the story and it felt very fast and a bit forced if I’m honest. Also, (not sure if I’m treading into spoiler territory here) but there were multiple instances when the main character would get injured but then get up and run around and fight like she hadn’t just broken a rib. There is a possible explanation for this but it was never explicitly stated so I’m not buying it.
Overall, this is another book where I 100% get the appeal and popularity, but it just didn’t work for me. Plot-driven stories can work for me as long as the characters still get depth, which they did not here. I think if you’re interested then you should definitely check it out still and form your own opinion as I know so many of the things that bothered me others liked. I will probably not be continuing with this trilogy.