We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1)
At the Medio School for Girls, distinguished young women are trained for one of two roles in their polarized society. Depending on her specialization, a graduate will one day run a husband’s household or raise his children, but both are promised a life of comfort and luxury, far from the frequent political uprisings of the lower class. Daniela Vargas is the school’s top student, but her bright future depends upon no one discovering her darkest secret—that her pedigree is a lie. Her parents sacrificed everything to obtain forged identification papers so Dani could rise above her station. Now that her marriage to an important politico’s son is fast approaching, she must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society, where famine and poverty rule supreme.On her graduation night, Dani seems to be in the clear, despite the surprises that unfold. But nothing prepares her for all the difficult choices she must make, especially when she is asked to spy for a resistance group desperately fighting to bring equality to Medio. Will Dani cling to the privilege her parents fought to win for her, or to give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?

We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) Details

TitleWe Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1)
Author
ReleaseFeb 26th, 2019
PublisherKatherine Tegen Books
ISBN-139780062691330
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Fantasy, Lgbt

We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) Review

  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Youtube | Twitch
  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    holy shit this looks awesome I'm here for the kickass latinx wlw
  • ➸ mahana
    January 1, 1970
    full review on my blogRepresentation: Latina main characters and an f/f romance. According to the publisher, these are both ownvoices. ARC kindly provided by Katherine Tegen Books in exchange for an honest review. This was such a refreshing and original read that takes on so many prevalent issues in today's society. I hate comparing books, but if you like diverse reads with queer characters of colour that have the same vibe as The Handmaid's Tale (except Young Adult), then you'll love this. Even full review on my blogRepresentation: Latina main characters and an f/f romance. According to the publisher, these are both ownvoices. ARC kindly provided by Katherine Tegen Books in exchange for an honest review. This was such a refreshing and original read that takes on so many prevalent issues in today's society. I hate comparing books, but if you like diverse reads with queer characters of colour that have the same vibe as The Handmaid's Tale (except Young Adult), then you'll love this. Even if you don't like it, pick it up for the amazing ownvoices diversity in a fantasy/dystopian setting. Since the plot is unique and complex, I'll put it simply: young girls are trained at the Medio School for Girls to become emotionless, conservative (glorified) maids Primeras or aesthetically pleasing, scandalous child-bearers Segundas and are sold married off to rich men. Except, based on the mythology of the world, a girl from each side is married to one man. The main character, Dani, is a Primera from the lower class and will be married off to the chief military strategist's son alongside her first friend at the school (and now "enemy"), Carmen. Obviously, I can't go into a lot of detail because this doesn't come out until 2019 but I can definitely say this is something you shouldn't miss. The world is terrifying, yet so relevant. The world-building and writing are both absolutely stunning. The characters are all complex and well-developed. The f/f romance is adorable (though it needed more development in the beginning). My only complaint was the lack of action throughout the novel where the explanations of the corrupt government were explained to us rather than shown. P.S. Don't read an ARC of this because there's an intense cliffhanger and you'll have to wait two years for the sequel. You're welcome.
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  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    IT HAS ARRIVED!!!It's gorgeous and I am so starting this tonight. Do I have 1,436,102 review copies I am suppose to be reading?YES.But this is one of my most anticipated books of the year and I am NOT putting it off!
  • Emily May
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided in exchange for honest review 🔥
  • Madalyn (Novel Ink)
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.After following Tehlor Kay Mejia on social media for years and hearing some early buzz about her debut, I was highly anticipating this one. And, friends, let me tell you: it did not disappoint!We Set the Dark on Fire is set in a world that feels uncomfortably close to our own. Medio is a world in which women are expected to conform to prescribed subservient role I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.After following Tehlor Kay Mejia on social media for years and hearing some early buzz about her debut, I was highly anticipating this one. And, friends, let me tell you: it did not disappoint!We Set the Dark on Fire is set in a world that feels uncomfortably close to our own. Medio is a world in which women are expected to conform to prescribed subservient roles, one where a whole nation of people is viewed as “illegal” and is constantly demonized by the oppressive government. I hesitate to use “dystopian” as a descriptor nowadays, because it holds so many seemingly negative connotations to a lot of readers. However, We Set the Dark on Fire is a dystopian novel in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and Red Clocks, as opposed to Divergent or The Hunger Games. The entire book feels like very pointed political commentary, and the subject matter was incredibly timely. Like, there’s literally a wall built by the Median government to keep out the “border-crossing illegals” who they blame for all of the country’s problems. Sound familiar?Anyway, we follow Dani, who has just graduated from the esteemed Medio School for Girls, which prepares young women for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda. Basically, every rich, influential dude in Medio has two wives, a Primera and a Segunda, who are trained in different arenas of womanly duties *vomit noises*. At the beginning of We Set the Dark on Fire, Dani graduates at the top of her Primera class and is sold to the wealthiest, most influential family in the country… alongside her nemesis, Carmen, who is to be Mateo’s Segunda.I was enthralled by the world of Medio from the first page. Mejia describes it so vividly, from the food, to the clothing, to the social customs. It’s heavily influenced by Mexican culture, which I loved. As such, almost every character in this book is Latinx, which I also loved. I mean, obviously, it has some flaws (see all of the misogynistic, heteronormative, classist, and xenophobic rhetoric spouted by the country’s elite), but it was fascinating to read about. The chapter headings are excerpts from the Medio School for Girls’ handbook, which I thought was a really clever way to acclimate readers to some of the more nuanced social expectations in Medio. The whole concept of Primeras and Segundas was both fascinating and horrifying. It was such a structured system of oppression, but one that hid behind the facade of valuing women’s vast talents and skills– AKA, the most insidious kind of oppression.Dani herself was a really fun character to follow. She has a huge secret that I constantly feared was going to be discovered and, consequently, ruin her life. Throughout the book, she gets more and more involved with La Voz, the resistance movement in Medio, and I loved seeing her desire to stand up for what’s right eventually eclipse her fear. I love that the resistance was painted as imperfect, but trying. Like I’ve mentioned, everything about Medio and its politics felt uncomfortably close to home.Okay, let’s get to my absolute favorite part of We Set the Dark on Fire: THE. ROMANCE. In such a bleak story, the romance was what gave me hope and made me want to keep reading. It’s one of my favorite f/f romances I’ve read recently. It felt a little instalove-y at first, but I grew to really love and understand the quick bond between Carmen and Dani. There’s something so vindicating about seeing two queer, Latinx ladies basically burn the entire system down. Also, I need their husband to die a painful death in the next book. What a jerk.Overall, We Set the Dark on Fire kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time I read it. It was missing that special *something* to bump my rating up to a full five stars, but rest assured that it did not disappoint in the slightest. This was a very strong series opener, and I am anxiously awaiting book two in this duology! If you need more queer Latinx rep, as well as some excellent social commentary, in your life, you have to pick this one up.
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  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    1) I'm always going to be here for fantastic queer women of color2) Tehlor Kay Mejia's story in All Out was so phenomenal that I feel an empty space in my soul begging for more of her writing
  • Rachel Strolle
    January 1, 1970
    IMMEDIATE FAVEIMMEDIATE FAVEWOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW HOLY F
  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    Nothing about the blurb sounds interesting or new, but 4 starred reviews? Can't resist...
  • Dahlia
    January 1, 1970
    *is no longer speaking to Tehlor*Now that we have that out of the way, this is an unsettlingly prescient read for the state of politics in 2018-19 - like, it's literally about wall-crossing "illegals"and has a bunch of characters you'll want to rip apart with your bare hands and thank God there is some kissing in there.
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  • Lea (drumsofautumn)
    January 1, 1970
    ♦ Video Review ♦We all know Dystopian has had its big hype and it seems like it's not coming back anytime soon. But with WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, Tehlor Kay Mejia managed to write a truly engaging, very timely Dystopian Fantasy that feels different from what we've seen before. “'Women, I'll never understand them.' With only his Primera and Segunda present, there was no one in the room to laugh at his joke. While he was busy congratulating himself on it, Carmen shot Dani a look over her napkin ♦ Video Review ♦We all know Dystopian has had its big hype and it seems like it's not coming back anytime soon. But with WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, Tehlor Kay Mejia managed to write a truly engaging, very timely Dystopian Fantasy that feels different from what we've seen before. “'Women, I'll never understand them.' With only his Primera and Segunda present, there was no one in the room to laugh at his joke. While he was busy congratulating himself on it, Carmen shot Dani a look over her napkin. It almost looked... conspirational.” I thought the Dystopian world building was super interesting. A good Dystopian has a concept that is really horrific, while at the same time realistic, and the author pulled this off so well. Not one second while reading this, did I doubt that this is an actual way a society could develop into and that made it all the more well done.I definitely wish we had seen a little bit more of the school that the girls get trained at. I think it would've been even better for the world building to include that as well and also to show more of the relationship between the main character and her love interest and develop feelings a little earlier.And while the main character talks about her growing up outside the wall, I wish we had seen some flashbacks or just generally more of the world outside the wall to really understand what was going on there, to see the differences of the in- and outside and to understand what the rebellion was actually fighting for/against.All of this fell flat mostly because the main aspect of the story is the rebellion group but sadly I found myself not caring too much about the rebellion, especially in the beginning. Because we don't have that much background knowledge, I found it hard to care and to understand why Dani would give up her safety she and her parents have fought for so hard.In Dystopians I like to see a normal life happen for a bit before the rebellion aspect comes into play, which is also something that I was missing from this novel. While Dani obviously knows how corrupt the system she's living in is, I still would've loved to see her just live in it for a little while, kind of being oblivious to the fact that she actually has the power to change things. She was kinda pushed and pressured into caring and I think it would've been nicer if she developed that more for herself.One of my biggest gripes with the story was the character development of the love interest, Carmen. Her change of heart came basically out of nowhere, which made it very hard for me to get invested in the romance at first. While we find out her reasons as to why she first disliked Dani and was mean to her, the development just happened to quickly. To me there wasn't much chemistry and the feelings came out of nowhere. This was such wasted potential because once the characters actually talked about their feelings for each other and were romantically involved, I thought it was beautifully done. The romance in itself was wonderful and I was super invested, it's just that I didn't enjoy the path towards it at all. “You're a hundred shades of a girl. You hold those shadows and bring them to life when you need them, and they're flawless. Look how far you've risen, how many people you've fooled.” As you can tell from the above paragraph, this features a f/f romance. This also has a really great female masturbation scene that I appreciate a lot in YA! And all of the characters in this world are Latinx!Overall, this was a really entertaining read, that had a good balance between the cruel Dystopian world and still being an enjoyable to read novel. This is a Dystopian novel that deserves a chance in today's publishing world and could very much bring this genre back.♦ Booktube Channel ♦ Twitter ♦ Instagram ♦Thanks to Edelweiss for providing me with an early review copy!
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  • Melissa (Ever So Mela)
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a simple person...I see a Latina main character, I press TBR
  • - ̗̀ DANY ̖́- (danyreads)
    January 1, 1970
    . : ☾⋆ — 5 ★ READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!!https://bit.ly/2SxlsQYARC provided from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review (thank you Katherine Tegen Books and HarperCollins!!)OOF, if it isn’t one of the most exciting, original, well written and gorgeously set up books I’ve read. it’s a YA The Handmaid’s Tale AND ALSO The Handmaiden all at once: a dark, forbidden sapphic romance with intensely vivd world building?? count me in!! and as if that wasn’t enough to pique your in . : ☾⋆ — 5 ★ READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!!https://bit.ly/2SxlsQYARC provided from the publisher via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review (thank you Katherine Tegen Books and HarperCollins!!)OOF, if it isn’t one of the most exciting, original, well written and gorgeously set up books I’ve read. it’s a YA The Handmaid’s Tale AND ALSO The Handmaiden all at once: a dark, forbidden sapphic romance with intensely vivd world building?? count me in!! and as if that wasn’t enough to pique your interest—it ALSO introduces a cast entirely made up of latinx characters!! (and I gotta say, I get it now. it’s pretty exciting to find a book that features a character with the same name as you!! I’ve never come across another Daniela, even if her nickname is Dani with an “i” and not Dany with a “y”, it’s still Daniela and it’s still something that caught me by surprise and immediately warmed me up to the book). aside from the main character and I having the same name, though—We Set the Dark on Fire is absolutely captivating in its own right and deserves every piece of buzz you’ve heard about it. it’s beautifully written and gorgeously built. I read it in almost a single sitting and the entire time I was absolutely immersed in every single word. every character and chapter felt unique to anything I’ve ever read before, and the relationship between Dani and Carmen CONSUMED every single one of my thoughts for hours after I’d finished reading. everything about this book was beautiful, and the fact that it’s ALSO Tehlor Kay Mejia’s debut just makes it even better. We Set the Dark on Fire is truly a triumph!!I don’t want to go into a lot of detail because I’m afraid if I get myself going I will literally never stop talking about this book. all I want to say is that this isn’t a book that you should allow to pass by, and I know it’s only February but I’m willing to bet it’s one of the best books I’ll read this year. I’m still reeling from it, to be honest. thanks again to Edelweiss+, Katherine Tegen Books and HarperCollins for providing a free copy!!
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  • Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader
    January 1, 1970
    This book made me feel a lot.  Mostly anger.  But not at the book.  Just at some of the similarities to what we're seeing in the world right now.  Dani came illegally over the wall into the legal side of her country.  She still grew up close to the border which is very poor.  Her parents got her papers illegally and did everything they could to get her into the Medio School For Girls.  In this school, the girls are prepared to be married off to prominent boys.  Dani is the top in her class.  She This book made me feel a lot.  Mostly anger.  But not at the book.  Just at some of the similarities to what we're seeing in the world right now.  Dani came illegally over the wall into the legal side of her country.  She still grew up close to the border which is very poor.  Her parents got her papers illegally and did everything they could to get her into the Medio School For Girls.  In this school, the girls are prepared to be married off to prominent boys.  Dani is the top in her class.  She doesn't want to be married, but she goes through it for her parents.  Each boy marries two girls.  One girl is supposed to help her husband with his business and be his partner.  The other is to make the house pretty and to give him babies.  Dani is chosen for Mateo, a boy who may become president.   The girl chosen with her is Carmen, a girl Dani tried to be friends with, but who bullied her through school.There is a resistance group, La Voz, that is trying to help the poor.  They don't like the government and want to find a way to overthrow it.  They have spies everywhere and they blackmail Dani into helping them.  They knew her papers were forged and she was about to be found out by a new detection system.  A boy showed up her last day of school with new papers for her.  But they came with a price.  He shows up at her new home and starts giving her tasks.  The more Dani does, the more she realizes that she sides more with La Voz than her new husband.  Dani risks everything to continue helping them.  Partly out of blackmail, but also because of her own feelings.Dani quickly realizes that her training from school won't help her with Mateo.  He doesn't want an equal.  He wants wives who listen, do what they're told, and obey him.  I hated Mateo.  Usually I can find a positive in a bad character, but there was nothing with him.  I swear my blood pressure went up when I read the parts he was included in."I'll thank you to watch your tone," he said, his own face flushing now though his tone had gone colder still.  "No one likes a mouthy woman."As I mentioned in the beginning, I found many similarities to what we're seeing in the US right now.  It's not to the point of killing, but the way people past the southern border are being treated.  The talk of a wall.  Of how they are somehow lesser people because of where they were born.  Again, blood pressure went up a lot while reading.  I like books that make me feel something and this one definitely did."Who do you think is responsible for the militarization of the border?"  he asked.  "For the shoot-on-sight policy regarding border crossings?"There is a lot of action, betrayal, and some f/f romance in this book.  It's very political.  And the ending had a big twist with a cliffhanger.  Warnings for misogyny, prejudice against the poor and people from across the border,  kidnapping/abduction, and attacks/killing.  I gave this book 4  1/2 stars rounded up to 5 on Goodreads.  Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for my copy for review.  Quotes taken from an arc and may change before final publication.  I cannot wait for book two!
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  • kav (xreadingsolacex)
    January 1, 1970
    disclaimer: i received an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review. this in no way impacted my review. "I heard about men with big boots and helmets who would come in the night, step on your garden and steal your food, and make your parents disappear. I heart about a dark room with no windows where they'd take you if you didn't behave. Where they'd ask you questions until you forgot what the sun felt like on your skin. I heard about a wall so tall and so wide that if you woke up on disclaimer: i received an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review. this in no way impacted my review. "I heard about men with big boots and helmets who would come in the night, step on your garden and steal your food, and make your parents disappear. I heart about a dark room with no windows where they'd take you if you didn't behave. Where they'd ask you questions until you forgot what the sun felt like on your skin. I heard about a wall so tall and so wide that if you woke up on the wrong side of it you'd never find your way home again...You know what the difference was between the scary stories they told my husband, and the ones they told me? [Mine] were true." I love a book about revolutionary sapphic girlfriends fighting against a corrupt government. And We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia is just that - a groundbreaking love letter to girls everywhere - queer girls, girls of color - that is shockingly time-efficient in its discussion of a corrupt government, including issues pertaining to poverty and to illegal immigration and corrupt and prejudiced leadership, considering the current political climate in early 2019.With her debut novel, Meijia writes a perfect first book to this duology. She weaves together the perfect blend of beautiful writing, well-developed characters and incredible character dynamics, and near-perfect worldbuilding, all while confronting relevant and timely issues to the world today.Though all the aspects listed are important to creating, frankly, a good novel, without good writing, the rest of it can never truly make up for writing that falls flat. Meijia's knack for word-choice and sentence structure and all the qualities it takes to make a damn good writer are obvious when reading this novel. She perfectly blends together a lyrical tone with the cut and dry nature that many books often fall into, creating the ideal middle-ground that can appeal to any reader. I still get chills thinking about the first quote included at the top of this review. But all the other aspects of this novel are, as previously alluded to, equally brilliant. The character formation and character dynamics are downright exquisite. I hated every character I was meant to hate, and loved every character I was meant to love. And I was flat-out in love with the main character and love interest.The leading lady, Daniela Vargas, is a badass latina young woman who built her entire life on a web of lies in order to survive in her world. She manages to be intelligent and emotional at the same time. She is both fierce and stoic. But at the end of the day, she is brave. She is a picture-perfect representation of the kind of well-developed female characters we deserve to see in media everywhere. "...she wanted to do more than exist on the fringes. That she wanted to fight back against the husband who thought he could control her, the government who thought they could decide who deserved to live and die. That she wanted to make her own choices, and she was ready to start today." And the slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers sapphic romance was beautifully woven into the story. Meijia develops this romance well, really moving the dynamic slowly and raising important distinctions between lust and love and the integration of trust in those dynamics. The bond between between these two women develops into something that represents important necessities in every relationships, particularly stressing the important of consent and trust. "'So you knew...Even then?'"'What? That I wanted to hold hands with girls?''Yes,' she said, almost a whisper..." And of the course, there is the largest and most powerful part of this novel - the plot/worldbuilding/real-world aspects (which I believe are all intertwined.) "That's what it means, to fight. It means believing in the movement, and doing whatever it takes to further it, no matter what the consequences may be." The worldbuilding of Medio is, again, near-perfect. I understood this world so well, to the point where I could picture living in it.Throughout this novel, Meijia considers dynamics of sexism, in the societal expectations and rules placed on these girls from a young age. Meijia incorporates issues that discuss poverty and immigration and movements to battle a corrupt government. She writes a novel with issues that, when you really look at it, do not tread that far from the direction our current world is in. "The violence has already begun. The violence is committed every day you defend that wall and let citizens of Medio starve." At its core, this novel is about bravery in the face of corruption and prejudice. It is about girls of all communities rising up in a world that tries to stifle their voices. It is about finding joy and strength when the world is dark. It is everything I could have expected, and more.And all I can say is, I highly urge you to read it and then sit in eager anticipation with me as we await the conclusion to this duology after that unbelievable cliffhanger. "The bad stuff will be there. If we want to fight it, we have to find joy where we can. We have to find beauty. We have to take our moments to be happy. Because the joy is what keeps us strong, and reminds us we have something to fight for.
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  • Traci Chee
    January 1, 1970
    In this gorgeous fantasy, Tehlor Kay Mejia showcases dynamic women who defy expectations, break conventions, and fight, love, and exist in a myriad of beautiful, complex ways as they burst free of the cages society has built for them. WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE is a vivid tale of political intrigue, power, and resistance that will thrill the hearts of readers.
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  • ak
    January 1, 1970
    I read a real early draft and it was magic then and from all accounts has only gotten better. I can't waaaaaittttt.Update 12/13/2018: it has gotten better. This is a story of immigration and revolution and family. Tehlor’s written something gay and special I think.
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  • Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
    January 1, 1970
    You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Do yourself a favor, and be sure to read the author's note in this one! Sets up the whole book in such a marvelous way, and why this book is such a timely read. The Things I Liked: •The characters were incredibly sympathetic. Even at the start, when they're making choices I'd rather they didn't (in some cases), I still fully understood why they were doing it. They had backstories that You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight Do yourself a favor, and be sure to read the author's note in this one! Sets up the whole book in such a marvelous way, and why this book is such a timely read. The Things I Liked: •The characters were incredibly sympathetic. Even at the start, when they're making choices I'd rather they didn't (in some cases), I still fully understood why they were doing it. They had backstories that really made them relatable, and really helped as a reader to form a connection. And they grew so much during the course of the book! •The friendships and romance were great! Dani had mostly kept to herself in the beginning, which you'll understand in terms of where she's come from. But as the book progresses and she makes new friends and in some cases, more than friends, these relationships help shape the story in pretty monumental ways. •Bringing down the patriarchy is a plot I can always get on board with! Ugh, why is society so gross? Ours, theirs, it's all despicable, let's be real. The only difference between Daniela's world and ours is that they're more honest about the fact that they want women's only life purpose to be marrying some crappy dude. And wow, the aforementioned dude is truly a pile of human garbage. Dani being involved in taking it down? Perfection! •The stakes felt high, and the story was good. I enjoyed it, even the moments that were quieter. I loved the world-building, the marketplaces, and of course, wondering what is going to happen as Dani gets herself involved further and further into the rebellion. The Things I Didn't: •It reminded me of several other books. I am not saying it was a duplicate of some other book, just a lot of themes from a lot of other books were used, in a way that didn't feel totally fresh? And because of that, maybe a wee bit predictable? Bottom Line: Well, now I need to know what happens next! Dani is a strong character who has to make some incredibly difficult choices, and it's absolutely worth reading about them!
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  • USOM
    January 1, 1970
    (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)I adored Dani from the beginning. Fiercely loyal to her family, committed to her role as a Primera, and terrified of her past secrets. We Set the Dark on Fire is passionate, gripping, and a book that will surprise you with its depth. There's rebellion, forbidden love, and personal growth. You'll want to go ahead and pre-order the sequel as soon as you finish the first. I can't sin (Disclaimer: I received this free book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)I adored Dani from the beginning. Fiercely loyal to her family, committed to her role as a Primera, and terrified of her past secrets. We Set the Dark on Fire is passionate, gripping, and a book that will surprise you with its depth. There's rebellion, forbidden love, and personal growth. You'll want to go ahead and pre-order the sequel as soon as you finish the first. I can't sing the praises enough. If you love books with fantasy, mirrors into reality, and stories of rebellion, this book is for youfull review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...
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  • Adriana Martinez Figueroa
    January 1, 1970
    *stares up at the ceiling for a full hour after finishing it* i have to wait so long for the next book [full review to be posted in december]--Rating: 5/5 StarsReview: We Set the Dark on Fire (WSTDOF) was added to my To-Read list on February 2018. Adding books to my To-Read list on Goodreads is something of a second nature to me; I know I’m never gonna read the thousands of books in that list, but I love the encouragement of knowing that these books are there if I want to read them. Sometime af *stares up at the ceiling for a full hour after finishing it* i have to wait so long for the next book [full review to be posted in december]--Rating: 5/5 StarsReview: We Set the Dark on Fire (WSTDOF) was added to my To-Read list on February 2018. Adding books to my To-Read list on Goodreads is something of a second nature to me; I know I’m never gonna read the thousands of books in that list, but I love the encouragement of knowing that these books are there if I want to read them. Sometime after adding it to the list, I read Tehlor Kay Mejia’s story in All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens throughout the Ages , making me fall in love with her writing style and subject matter (queer latinas caring for and loving each other in a historical setting– MY BRAND). In October, I posted on Twitter that it seemed quite interesting that not many queer Latinas were getting ARCs to WSTDOF, essentially bypassing the target audience in favor of white and straight reviewers. Bookseller and overall amazing person Cecilia Cackley sent me an extra copy she had on hand.Now we’re here! After finishing the book and staring at the ceiling for a whole hour, going to sleep, and then waking up only thinking about the book, I’m ready to talk about the masterpiece that is Mejia’s debut novel.A story of political intrigue and suspense that will leave you sweating with its fast pace, Mejia’s fantasy is one that’s rooted in reality. It’s a story about what happens when you marginalize and oppress someone from birth and what they’d do in order to break the system that has long broken you and those you love.In WSTDOF, we see the world of Medio divided by a wall that separates those chosen by the Sun God (the “right” side) and those chosen by the Salt God (the “wrong” side); the closer to the capital, the more conservative and exclusive the world. In Medio, the elite men hold all the power, even in their marriages as they follow in the footsteps of the Sun God who had two wives: one wife, the Primera, will be the man’s right hand and in charge of the machinations of the family; the other, the Segunda, will be there to love the husband and provide offspring. This tradition has been passed down for generations until we find Daniela Vargas, who’s on the cusp of graduation from the Medio School for Girls, which prepares future Primeras and Segundas for the highest ranking government officials.Dani, a girl raised in the outskirts of what Medio deems “civilization,” is forced to make the biggest decision of her life: to spy on her new husband for the radical resistance group La Voz, or be exposed as an “illegal” citizen of Medio and potentially face death. Dani is forced into many masks, none of which ever allow her to be herself (not that she’s had much time to contemplate this). “A hundred shades of a girl,” is how her contact with the rebel group describes her, and she takes that descriptor in stride.The way Dani flits between identities and melts into whatever role she needs to play at a moment’s notice is not unlike someone who’s been forced to assimilate into a society that would shun her otherwise. She code-switches between a strict Primera living under the thumb of an egomaniac, a harsh and effective informant of the comings and goings of the Garcia household, an immigrant forced to forget her roots and family, a socialite, and a confidante living with her childhood tormentor-turned-co-wife. Dani is naturally curious and often gets her way due to the practiced ease with which she can slip into certain roles. She melds into the background when necessary, yet isn’t afraid of making her voice heard; after all, she was taught to be a Primera, a partner for her husband through all things.Seeing her evolution from bystander to forced-actor to active participant was magical in itself, all without needing a magic system in a fantasy. The text reads like fantasy, but doubles as a realistic metaphor for class division, questions of citizenship (who gets to be the “right” kind of citizen and the “wrong” kind), sexuality in fictional settings, power dynamics, the cost of revolution and radical groups, religion (only slightly), a civilization’s mythos and how it can carry over in the shaping of a society and its shared generational trauma, and familial relations among Latinx people. I could write like 50 different essays on this book.It’s a testament to Tehlor’s writing that it leaves you not just wanting more, but wanting to do more. Do more about the politics of our world, about gender dynamics, about the literary canon… (Speaking of, why is the book being promoted as something for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale? Because of the topics of patriarchal ownership of and power over women’s bodies? The context is very different, especially within that of Latinx families.) Tangent over… for now. I want to hug Dani and tell her to keep fighting for what’s right, to not let her moral compass be corrupted by those in power, or even by those whom she loves.And Dani does love fiercely. She hides it underneath all the masks, but she loves her estranged family, loves having a purpose, and loves Carmen. Wait, who is Carmen and why am I just mentioning her now?Carmen is the Segunda to Dani’s Primera, both of them married to Mateo Garcia, both of them with dimensions of differences and history. Dani and Carmen came up to the Medio School for Girls at the same time, but grew apart as Carmen assimilated faster into the school’s elitism. Their rivalry grew at the same time they did, but they had to learn to put those rivalries to rest if they were to work together to please their husband. However, by putting their differences aside, they discover that their relationship is growing more in friendship, and perhaps in something more. There’s something to be said about two women finding each other in the most precarious of circumstances, it’s the enemies-to-lovers trope I love so dearly but developed correctly. Some reviewers have said they didn’t like how it was developed, and at times I agree; one apology does not make a good relationship. However, I looked at their relationship in the way Latinx families deal with their own relationships. We rarely ever apologize to each other verbally, there are other ways we communicate regret, and I think that comes across quite well between Carmen and Dani. They have each other’s backs in the face of a government hell-bent in keeping them and their families in the sidelines. This is especially true whenever they must face Mateo and his very powerful family.Another early reviewer said that Mateo was “pantomime-villain evil,” which completely negates the fact that this story is supposed to showcase the cruelty of men and their obsession with expressing how much power they have over women. He denies Dani a foothold in his life, preferring to do backdoor and seedy dealings by himself, which erases her power. At one point, he uses his body as a weapon against Dani, threatening her physically and verbally. It’s the classic makings of an abuser, not of a fantasy villain. It goes to show how much Mejia injects her fantasy with realism. Mateo doesn’t have superpowers or magic, unless you count the fact that he was born privileged and wouldn’t get reprimanded in the same way someone from a lower caste or of a different gender would. It’s classic Latinx machismo. Mateo isn’t an evil villain, he’s a regular man raised to be someone in a position of power over those he oppresses, which is a realistic kind of evil.There are so many complex and important details that make WSTDOF such an incredible book. This doesn’t even cover the poignant narration from Dani’s perspective. Dani’s a narrator who keeps her emotions pretty much close to her chest, so when she divulges them to the audience it steals your breath away. By the end of the book, she’s changed so much from the rigid girl wishing away her powerlessness. It proves to be hard, but she continues despite many setbacks. She’s a fighter, not in the kickass, The Hunger Games!Katniss Everdeen way; she’s a fighter in the way Laia in An Ember in the Ashes is, or like Katniss circa Mockingjay; she’s emotionally resourceful, playing out all the possible outcomes before sticking to one, which allows her to think on her feet when faced with a twist she didn’t see coming.And there are twists in the story that you won’t see coming either. There isn’t much left for me to say that won’t seem like I’m repeating myself at this point or end up spoiling the book, but trust me, you’ll want to read this book. Then, you can join me in the torture of having to wait for the next installment of this duology.Thank you to Cecilia Cackley of East City Bookshop , a women-owned independent community bookstore in Washington D.C, once again for sending me this copy. Consider pre-ordering WSTDOF from this store! The book comes out February 26th, 2019.
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  • Tucker (TuckerTheReader)
    January 1, 1970
    I love this cover by the science part of me is screaming about how it's physically impossible to set the dark in fire
  • Michelle Arredondo
    January 1, 1970
    Beautiful cover....fantastic book....I wasn't even that upset that my copy of this book arrived in my hands beaten and battered from bad package handling. I wanted to read this book. I jumped right into it.....and I enjoyed every single moment of it. Author Tehlor Kay Mejia brings us a phenomenal story....the kind that will stay with you well after completing it. The kind of book that forces you to feel deeply...be it anger...food for thought...deep contemplation...excitement and great sadness w Beautiful cover....fantastic book....I wasn't even that upset that my copy of this book arrived in my hands beaten and battered from bad package handling. I wanted to read this book. I jumped right into it.....and I enjoyed every single moment of it. Author Tehlor Kay Mejia brings us a phenomenal story....the kind that will stay with you well after completing it. The kind of book that forces you to feel deeply...be it anger...food for thought...deep contemplation...excitement and great sadness when it is over. Complex and raw....it pushes the envelope of all the things going on in this world that need to be discussed...that need to not be overlooked. I can't stress enough what a wonderful read this is. Highly recommend. Thanks to goodreads, Author Tehlor Kay Mejia, and to Katherine Tegen Books for my free copy of this book won via giveaway. I received. I read. I reviewed this book honestly and voluntarily.
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  • mo
    January 1, 1970
    The first in a sizzling fantasy duology from debut author Tehlor Kay Mejia, We Set The Dark On Fire is a boldly feminist look at freedom, family, and fighting the power. i'm very here for this. thanks to the publisher and edelweiss for the arc!
  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    this was really really good!!
  • Bang Bang Books
    January 1, 1970
    Let's start by saying that I appreciate the representation and the timeliness of the topic but unfortunately that's all which is the reason for the low rating. The MC, Dani, was nothing special. She was the typical character who wants to please her parents even if it means sacrificing their own desires. This character that we've all read a hundred times, rebukes the rebels or ignores them until she's confronted with the realness and joins them. IF YOU MUST WRITE THIS CHARACTER THAT APPEARS IN EV Let's start by saying that I appreciate the representation and the timeliness of the topic but unfortunately that's all which is the reason for the low rating. The MC, Dani, was nothing special. She was the typical character who wants to please her parents even if it means sacrificing their own desires. This character that we've all read a hundred times, rebukes the rebels or ignores them until she's confronted with the realness and joins them. IF YOU MUST WRITE THIS CHARACTER THAT APPEARS IN EVERY DYSTOPIAN YA NOVEL, PLEASE MAKE THEM STAND OUT (HAVE A NEW VOICE). Making Dani Latina isn't enough; she has to have a different voice-a personality. The romance was insta-love. Carmen is a biotch and has hated Dani for FIVE YEARS (TREATED HER LIKE A PIECE OF SHIT) but then she has one civil conversation and it's booty time? What?! Is there a lack of f/f romance among minority characters? Yes but please do it well. The supporting cast of characters were forgettable. Mateo was a caricature of a villain. Carmen's only asset was that she filled out a dress. Sota was interesting on this first two appearances on the page but he fizzled. I would have liked to see the older Primera and Segunda have a larger role but once again-forgettable. The writing. I used to say that a book has bad writing but I'm going to stop saying that. Instead, I'll say that this type of writing wasn't for me. Mejia tried to create tension and sometimes in landed but most of the time it was familiar. Snooping in someone's office that you're forbidden to enter, eavesdropping on convos, making plans to meet with the rebels only to have someone unknowingly inviting themselves. These are all straight out of movies and TV; you have to have some nuance but there wasn't much. More about the writing and this time I will criticize. There were at least three times where Dani received VITAL information by eavesdropping. One time is okay but three? That's lazy writing. There has to be other ways for characters to obtain information that will move along the plot. When the author has to use the same tactic more than once, they've run out of ideas. The idea was new because it was a metaphor for the border wall but the border wall concept was too on the nose. In other words, there was no depth and I wouldn't even go as far as to call it a metaphor. It was a literal wall keeping poor people out. When you write a have vs. have-nots or government vs. rebel story, you have to do something different with it. The government hates the have-nots because they were poor? I'm not even sure if that was the reason but that's not the point. Okay, they hate them and lie to the public to make them hate the have-nots by turning them into criminals. So, Trump is doing this right now and it's timely but Mejia wasn't giving it a new perspective. We are currently living this and she's just telling us what we already know and feel and see. GIVE ME SOMETHING DIFFERENT. I can turn on CNN and hear what she's saying in this book. GIVE ME A NEW VOICE, A NEW PERSPECTIVE, A NUANCED POV OR STORY FROM A REBEL. DON'T JUST REGURGITATE WHAT I HEAR ON THE NEWS EVERY DAY. If you've seen any spy-type movie, you will totally predict everything. I don't go into stories trying to predict everything but when it's kind of obvious, I have no choice but to try. That's all I'll say about that. I rated this low because I didn't enjoy any of it. Sometimes I will enjoy the first 50 pages or there will be one great character but there was none of that in this book. I didn't enjoy the first 10 pages. There was literally nothing new or special about the PLOT. This is a straight forward way of writing and that's just not the type of writing for me. I like beautiful metaphoric prose. I want to be challenged an this book fulfilled neither of those for me. This book is frustrating because it had potential especially because ALL the characters were Latina (I apologize if I'm categorizing this wrong. Is it Latinx? Please correct me) and it was set in a dystopian world. It basically comes down to-I don't want to read a book that I've already read before. If you liked Girls of Paper and Fire, which I coincidently also didn't enjoy, you'll like this book.
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  • Melanie (bookswritinghappiness)
    January 1, 1970
    I received a digital ARC of this book through Edelweiss thanks to HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.I added this book to my TBR list a little over a month ago because I thought the premise sounded cool and I absolutely loved the cover. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t judge the book by its cover, but it’s really beautiful. I wasn’t expecting to read it before release day, but when I saw that the digital ARC was available on Edelweiss, I figured I’d give it a shot and request it. To my surpr I received a digital ARC of this book through Edelweiss thanks to HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review.I added this book to my TBR list a little over a month ago because I thought the premise sounded cool and I absolutely loved the cover. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t judge the book by its cover, but it’s really beautiful. I wasn’t expecting to read it before release day, but when I saw that the digital ARC was available on Edelweiss, I figured I’d give it a shot and request it. To my surprise, I got approved to read it!!We Set the Dark on Fire is definitely not your typical YA fantasy / dystopia. The concept is very unique and I was immediately interested in learning more about Daniela and the society she lives in. I especially loved the sort of mythical backstory that serves as a kind of introduction to the main story. It built up the world and provided all of the necessary information without info-dumping. I also was happy to see a heck of a lot of latinx representation!! Every single character in this book is latinx, which is pretty freaking awesome. There is a lot of Spanish sprinkled throughout the novel, serving as everything from city names to society-specific terms. All of the names of the characters are Spanish, too. In addition to the latinx rep, there are also LGBT+ characters, which I did not realize until I read the book. The author that immediately comes to mind when I think of latinx LGBT+ rep is Adam Silvera, so this book is in some really good company.I knew going in that this was the first of a duology, so I expected a cliff hanger at the end, but I didn’t expect it to be so perfect!! It ended this first arc of the plot while also leaving me wanting to keep reading. This book isn’t even out for another six months, so who knows how long I’ll have to wait to find out what happens next — AHHH!! It’ll be worth the wait for sure. I did feel like the plot dragged a little bit at times (although, the fact that I was reading an ebook may have contributed to that), and I didn’t quite fall in love with the characters as much as I would have liked. That being said, though, I loved watching the characters develop, especially Dani and Carmen. Also, that plot twist totally surprised me!! I was expecting it to twist in the total opposite direction.Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book, and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel in a few years!! I highly recommend you check this book out in February : )
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  • Olivia (The Candid Cover)
    January 1, 1970
    I am immediately drawn into this book because of the forbidden love trope. The concept is so intriguing and the cover is just so pretty. It also sounds a bit like The Handmaid’s Tale with its polarized society. Looking forward to finding out more about this one in the spring!
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  • Jane (It'sJaneLindsey)
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars
  • Mila
    January 1, 1970
    The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.The premise of this book is what obviously drew my attention - a school where girls are trained to be perfect high-society wives while the rest of the population is having trouble living. But there's actually so much more to this story; there's a forbidden relationship, the religious undertones, a revolution brewing backstage, a lot of social commentaries, especially on the The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.The premise of this book is what obviously drew my attention - a school where girls are trained to be perfect high-society wives while the rest of the population is having trouble living. But there's actually so much more to this story; there's a forbidden relationship, the religious undertones, a revolution brewing backstage, a lot of social commentaries, especially on the topic of "group vs. individual interest", etc. Overall, there are meditations about different topics throughout the book because the POV character, Daniela, was taught to be a Primera, who are prized for their intellectual properties. The writing also delivers her thoughts and personality very well, I enjoyed it a lot. However, there were still a few things that bothered me. First of all, the bullying narrative where the bullied person forgives the bully out of the goodness of their heart after one little apology - I'm fed up with it and it honestly needs to die. The fact that they were kids doesn't change anything, it's total crap and invalidates the feelings of the bullied. Second, the romance, while interesting and exciting, was way too rushed. And thirdly, the cliffhanger wasn't the best, it felt like the narrative was constantly twisting itself in order to be surprising. I will still definitely read the second book and maybe even read the finished copy of this one because the setting and the plot are honestly worth it.
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  • Adiba Jaigirdar
    January 1, 1970
    This was an absolutely fantastic read. It's so eloquently written, but it's not purple prose. It's the perfect blend of lyricism, plot, and characters. Once I picked it up, I honestly couldn't put it down. I was totally invested - in the world, the characters, and the plot.I was a little bit wary of how the f/f romance was going to develop, because the dynamics between the two characters was complicated, and I wasn't sure how it could go from those complex dynamics to a romance. But it was brill This was an absolutely fantastic read. It's so eloquently written, but it's not purple prose. It's the perfect blend of lyricism, plot, and characters. Once I picked it up, I honestly couldn't put it down. I was totally invested - in the world, the characters, and the plot.I was a little bit wary of how the f/f romance was going to develop, because the dynamics between the two characters was complicated, and I wasn't sure how it could go from those complex dynamics to a romance. But it was brilliantly done. There was so much slow burn but it was near perfect. I do wish that it had been a little bit more drawn out, that the characters had slightly more time to trust in each other, but other than that, I had no complaints.The only reason why this is a four-star read is because...the ending was confusing. I was hoping that all of the political tensions, particularly Dani's confusion about which side she stood on, would be more or less resolved as we got to the end. That we would have a solid idea about Dani's goals. But...that didn't happen. If anything, it became even more confusing. And while I loved the world-building of the use of religion to push for the agenda of the privileged, towards the end some of the reasons for Dani's (and another person's) involvement in the politics felt...unrealised? There's a cliff-hanger at the end...and I'm not annoyed by the fact that it's a cliff-hanger, I'm more annoyed because it felt like Dani was grappling with these decisions for the large majority of the book. At the end, there should be some sort of a conclusion, not more and more grappling. Other than my issues with the ending, this novel was basically perfect. I'm hoping the second book will clear up my (and Dani's) confusion. I highly recommend giving this a read. It's a brilliant commentary about class structures and social power, about sexism, love, and many other things!
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