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, Fiction

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

  • megs_bookrack
    January 1, 1970
    At The Medio School for Girls, young women are trained for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda. Before you get too excited, these are not highly challenging professions these girls aspire too, but societally designed and assigned 'womanly roles' within a man's household. A Primera essentially handles the business aspects, while the Segunda takes care of the more emotional sides, raising children, providing humor and relaxation for the husband. As you can expect, a household requires both to fun At The Medio School for Girls, young women are trained for one of two roles: Primera or Segunda. Before you get too excited, these are not highly challenging professions these girls aspire too, but societally designed and assigned 'womanly roles' within a man's household. A Primera essentially handles the business aspects, while the Segunda takes care of the more emotional sides, raising children, providing humor and relaxation for the husband. As you can expect, a household requires both to function.This makes school a harsh competition, as your performance there affects your future placement. At graduation, the girls are chosen by an upper class family to marry their son(s) and so goes the rest of their lives. Made to serve the man.Daniela Vargas has sacrificed a lot to be a student at Medio. Her parents faked documents in order for her to attend. She comes from one of the poorest neighborhoods and her lineage definitely would not make her a desired match for any up-and-coming males.Dani graduates top of her class and is chosen as Primera for a young man who is slated to soon be running Medio, she knows she has made it. As a member of the Garcia family, the whole world will now be open to her but Dani quickly discovers this assignment isn't all it's cracked up to be.The Segunda of the Garcia household, Carmen, is a young lady who was very unkind to Dani at school but with no one else around, the two girls start to develop a relationship. Dani finds herself developing real feelings for Carmen but she isn't sure if she can trust her. In her new life, she really isn't sure if there is anyone she should trust.Set in a wonderfully imagined LatinX dystopian world, providing timely commentary on societal roles, structure and function, this book was everything I wanted it to be. In fact, this book is everything I wanted other books to be that disappointed me.I'm looking at you: The Belles. I meshed really well with Mejia's writing and upon reaching the end figured out, hey, this isn't a standalone! Very excited for the next in the series.With secrets and lies, rebellions and undercover agents, a female-female relationship, and so much more, I would definitely recommend this book to other YA Readers!
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Scarllet ✦ Underrated Lit Warrior
    January 1, 1970
    If we’re not all free, none of us are free.I'm looking forward to writing down my thoughts on the amazingness that is WSTDOF, but for now let me just say that. Ending. was. WILD. I seriously cannot wait for the next book and read what becomes of Dani, Carmen, Sota, & Alex...
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  • JenacideByBibliophile
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Harper Collins, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review. Opinion: I cannot tell you guys how excited I was to receive an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss+!SO excited. So, when I started actually reading, I realized…maybe, this isn’t exactly what I imagined it to be. But naturally, I kept reading…And reading…And…reading…*Sigh*This was ALMOST my first DNF book of 2019. Daniela’s family sacrificed everything they had to give her a better life. Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Harper Collins, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review. Opinion: I cannot tell you guys how excited I was to receive an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss+!SO excited. So, when I started actually reading, I realized…maybe, this isn’t exactly what I imagined it to be. But naturally, I kept reading…And reading…And…reading…*Sigh*This was ALMOST my first DNF book of 2019. Daniela’s family sacrificed everything they had to give her a better life. In a world where men are the hierarchy and are sold two wives to prosper and be happy, there is a school for girls where such women are educated and molded. As a Primera, Daniela is made into a wife that is both strong and intelligent. One that is cunning and to be used as the right-hand for her future husband. It is a life of calculated sentences, practiced facial expressions, and complete modesty and structure. But when Daniela is forced into making a deal with a member of a dangerous rebel group, in order to hide the past that could get her killed, she begins to question the life that she has spent so many years striving for. Should she do what is expected of her and stand with a man that is both cruel and devious, or should she fight for her people to hopefully make a difference? It took me almost 2 weeks to finish We Set the Dark on Fire, which is practically UNHEARD OF for me! What I was HOPING was going to be a creative and fresh YA story about the oppression of women in a world of men salivating on excessive power, was a dreary story that barely held my attention and one that resembled other books a little too closely. This is The Handmaid’s Tale set in the Latin Community, and resembles current events that can either be closely similar or completely off-base, depending on your stance and view of the world. I wanted this book to be innovative and a new outlook on themes/issues that have/can/are happening in the world. But it didn’t quite feel like that.For me, this book didn’t touch on any feelings and issues that I didn’t already see or think about. It seems like SO much of this book was a parallel version of The Handmaid’s Tale, which is so spectacular and gut-wrenching, that I can’t imagine ANYONE wanting or even ATTEMPTING to try and replicate it. But that is what this story feels like to me, a less heart-shattering YA version of a story that is and was so incredibly impactful. As soon as I started reading, I found I had a difficult time getting into the story and sticking with it. My mind was wandering, my eyelids were getting heavy, and it took a good few chapters for the story to make me want to keep reading. The turning point for me was when Dani leaves the Medio School for Girls, and begins her new life as a married Primera. Though I was hoping more of this story was going to be held at the school, because that is what the description lead me to believe and that, after all, is what grabbed my interest. But that aside, the story finally starts to “become something” when Dani is moved into her new home and given her wifely duties. But as soon as I started to gain interest, I found myself bored and skimming pages again.In this story, that author uses a writing style where she has Dani reflect on her childhood or what it was like over the border. I love flashbacks and moments from the present that will spark a memory for the character, but how it was done here just wasn’t executed well. At times, It feels like the author has put too much emphasis on making the story detailed and creatively written. Usually I am a HUGE advocate for a poetic way of words that describes everything so vividly, but the exuberance of reflections and descriptions kept losing my interest. There was TOO MUCH of this and it took away from the story and made me lose focus countless times. Regarding the characters, everything felt rather predictable. Carmen became the chosen Segunda in Dani’s marriage, which the reader will have easily saw coming. Mateo was the typical villain with zero heart or even a glimmer of kindness in him, which I found to be slightly unbelievable. It made his character one-dimensional and simplistic, rather than a villain with layers and a backstory that molded him to be such a ruthless and cold soul. Carmen started out as a character that could have really stolen the show with her charm and charisma, but she was really put on the side and only made a love interest and the second wife of Mateo. But where I really lost interest in this story, was the bizarre way the author introduces the romance of this book.It was, to be simply put, sudden and uncomfortable. It didn’t flow smoothly, it came out of such an unimportant conversation and encounter and was suddenly just…there. WHAT?! Where was the hints that this could be a relationship? The buildup?? The moments of fluttery nervousness and thoughts from our main character that this COULD be something she wants?! It just made ZERO sense, and felt ridiculous. This could have been a beautifully woven romance that was gentle and made strong by their shared bond. But instead, it came across feeling like some fleeting little fling with no substance. At this point, I just kept reading to get it over with. This isn’t to say that the book is horrible, that it has no direction, and that the writing is impossible to get through. Because it isn’t any of those things. It just didn’t hold my interest and attention, and I couldn’t connect with the characters or what they were really FEELING in these serious and scary situations. I just wanted more substance for this story. I wanted to feel the anger, agony, anguish and sadness for these characters! I wanted to be excited for rebellion, understand every aspect of what they were fighting for, and be yanked into the story with no yearning to come out. Unfortunately, We Set the Dark on Fire just wasn’t what I expected and what I was looking for.
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  • 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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  • 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
  • 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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  • - ̗̀ 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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  • Melissa (Ever So Mela)
    January 1, 1970
    I'm a simple person...I see a Latina main character, I press TBR
  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    Nothing about the blurb sounds interesting or new, but 4 starred reviews? Can't resist...
  • Fadwa (Word Wonders)
    January 1, 1970
    Actual rating: 4.5 starsI HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS!!!!! I'M NOT OK!!!!! SOMEONE SEND HELP!!!!!I absolutely adore the MC in this one, she's so smart, resourceful, strong willed and confident, she doesn't let anyone step on her toes and her trust is very hard to earn! I also loved her LI (spoiler but not really: it's f/f) and the way their attraction and later on romance bloomed! I loved the urgency and intensity of it all!I also LOVED how politically charged this was. It set parallels w Actual rating: 4.5 starsI HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS!!!!! I'M NOT OK!!!!! SOMEONE SEND HELP!!!!!I absolutely adore the MC in this one, she's so smart, resourceful, strong willed and confident, she doesn't let anyone step on her toes and her trust is very hard to earn! I also loved her LI (spoiler but not really: it's f/f) and the way their attraction and later on romance bloomed! I loved the urgency and intensity of it all!I also LOVED how politically charged this was. It set parallels with our world's current political climate and it's terrifying at times, it subtely sets a parallel with things undocumented immigrants do through and i thought that the wall between the inner island and the outskirts and the people who live right by the sea was a brilliant idea. As well as the way it showed the way people can easily be endoctrinated and lied to to see the villains as the good guys and the victims as the bad guys. I only docked half a star because Dani was conveniently always at the right place at the right time to hear Important Revelations and it bugged me a little.Can we also talk about that ending? Because i'm prepared to sue!!!! How am i supposed to wait OVER A YEAR?This was just SO GOOD!!!! Also the narrator (Kyla Garcia) did an absolutely brilliant job in the audiobook!
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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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  • Laura (bbliophile)
    January 1, 1970
    uhhh this was SO SO GOOD? I expected it to be really good because so many people I trust have been raving about this book, but it still managed to exceed my expectations. Wow.
  • Soulsearching
    January 1, 1970
    We Set the Dark on Fire is one of those books that you could not put it down because you had to see how it ended. It's an excited and interested dystopian, that in some ways reflects our current political world and it's scary sometimes.Usually, I'm not a big fan of dystopia, but that was a great and interesting read. The book was brilliantly written, and the author did a great job with the world-building.Our MC Dani is now one of my favorite characters this year. She's clever, compassionate, str We Set the Dark on Fire is one of those books that you could not put it down because you had to see how it ended. It's an excited and interested dystopian, that in some ways reflects our current political world and it's scary sometimes.Usually, I'm not a big fan of dystopia, but that was a great and interesting read. The book was brilliantly written, and the author did a great job with the world-building.Our MC Dani is now one of my favorite characters this year. She's clever, compassionate, strong and confident. She knew what she deserved, and she went for it. And I really liked that about her.The romance was sweet and beautiful, but it felt sudden and rushed. I would've liked to see more development between the characters.The plot twist, I saw coming from the very beginning, but that didn't affect my enjoyment of the book any less as I was curious about how it will be revealed and It was well done at the end of the book.I was too engaged in the book that I was so surprised when it ended. I needed more of it, and all I kept thinking about at that moment is SERIOUSLY?! I mean how am I suppose to wait till the second book?!Overall, I really liked We Set the Dark on Fire, and It was such an enjoyable fantasy/dystopian book.
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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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  • 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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  • Tucker
    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
  • Janani(ஜனனி)
    January 1, 1970
    THIS. BOOK. IS. SO. GAY that i didn't care about the plot. i've zoned out most of the time and i'm not even sorry. _____________it's time for f/f relationships to have their glory and together they will throw the guts of the guys who made them feel lesser into the deep sea.
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  • Clemlucian (🏳️‍🌈the brooding villain)
    January 1, 1970
    ⭐⭐⭐DNF at 83%I just wasn’t feeling it anymore so what’s the point. Kinda liked the GxG romance though. Nice touch. ⭐️⭐️⭐️DNF at 83%I just wasn’t feeling it anymore so what’s the point. Kinda liked the GxG romance though. Nice touch.
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  • Anna Banana
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsGreat debut! I enjoyed the writing and the world this book takes place in however I felt the romance needed more depth and felt a little rushed as well as the plot at times, though I would definitely say this book is more plot heavy than anything else. It was definitely a quick read, the pages seemed to fly by whenever I could find the time to read and I enjoyed the story the entire time. I will be reading the sequel and recommend this to YA fantasy readers looking for books with import 3.5 starsGreat debut! I enjoyed the writing and the world this book takes place in however I felt the romance needed more depth and felt a little rushed as well as the plot at times, though I would definitely say this book is more plot heavy than anything else. It was definitely a quick read, the pages seemed to fly by whenever I could find the time to read and I enjoyed the story the entire time. I will be reading the sequel and recommend this to YA fantasy readers looking for books with important messages and diversity!
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  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    4 starsI didn’t have many expectations for what this was going to be like as I went into this book, but can I say that if I did have expectations, We Set the Dark on Fire would have blown them away?!Like the cover, this book was both lush and gorgeous yet fierce and wild in its story. Mejia creates a world full of societal expectations and steeped in tradition, and then she works to tear down all of it throughout this book. It was a very unique mix of genres, which I ended up enjoying! I can’t p 4 starsI didn’t have many expectations for what this was going to be like as I went into this book, but can I say that if I did have expectations, We Set the Dark on Fire would have blown them away?!Like the cover, this book was both lush and gorgeous yet fierce and wild in its story. Mejia creates a world full of societal expectations and steeped in tradition, and then she works to tear down all of it throughout this book. It was a very unique mix of genres, which I ended up enjoying! I can’t place the time period, but it’s not futuristic in technology or other wise, nor is it historical. But it’s also not contemporary, as it takes place in a different world (without being magical or “otherworldly”–just different). I’d honestly call it a new type of YA dystopia, akin to a near-future dystopia. Kind of like The Sandcastle Empire with its near future dystopia, although a little less radical. It’s got a lot of the same elements as the modern day, although amplified and harshened to lend to its societal commentary. On the government, on immigration, on religion and the patriarchy and so much more. It was definitely ambitious, to say the least, and for the most part, Mejia succeeded in carrying this whole thing out. The one thing that made me drop a star was ultimately the ending. This book has a sequel coming, so the story is obviously not over yet, but I felt like we didn’t get any type of resolution from this novel. Even though the overarching plot still stands, there wasn’t really a plot specific to book 1 that was present or waiting to be resolved, so it felt like it was just kind of cut off, and I really wanted more closure for this particular book. It’s not a literary crime or anything, but I was kind of wishing for something to close this book off with a bang and leave us thirsting for book 2.Yet, there were so many other things that Mejia did well and that I loved!For one, the romance had me fanning myself the whole way through and Dani and Carmen were [insert fire emojis] WHEW. The tension was through the roof!I totally loved their dynamic and found it very fitting that the two wives of a corrupt politician (who also happened to be enemies before they got married to the dude) ended up having an affair. (˵ ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°˵)So yeah! Dani and Carmen are wonderful and I loved reading their parts together. Definitely strongly recommend this for the romance, and I think both girls contrast each other very well.It’s all told through Dani’s point of view, but both girls play an important role in the story and I liked seeing them go from enemies to allies to friends to lovers. The whole world was really well developed in the way Mejia set up the political corruption and the stakes that were in play with Dani (as she was from the border) and the way the religion and Sun God influenced the society strongly. It was fresh and unique and something I really enjoyed.Overall, I would definitely recommend We Set the Dark on Fire, despite my troubles with its ending and wishing for more closure. That just means I’ll be thirsting for book 2 when it comes out, I guess!Thank you so much to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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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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  • Sahitya
    January 1, 1970
    I’ve been so interested to read this book since I first heard of it a few months ago and have been waiting for weeks now to get it from my library. It felt so nice to finally get it in my hands and I had such fun reading and highlighting the hell out of this book in a single sitting.The first thing that strikes you most about this book is the world. It’s an island nation, with the inner island separated from the outer ones by a wall and border security enforcement being a major concern for the g I’ve been so interested to read this book since I first heard of it a few months ago and have been waiting for weeks now to get it from my library. It felt so nice to finally get it in my hands and I had such fun reading and highlighting the hell out of this book in a single sitting.The first thing that strikes you most about this book is the world. It’s an island nation, with the inner island separated from the outer ones by a wall and border security enforcement being a major concern for the government. The govt elite live separately in a compound, literally on higher ground, sound in their belief that they know what’s best for the people of their country, and anyone protesting for the sake of the poor and destitute people are immediately deemed rebels and punished harshly. The border enforcement forces are increasingly vicious, terrorizing even the people who live on the supposed “right” side of the wall, and scaring them with the possibility of being sent outside the wall. The themes of illegal immigration, the lengths to which families will go to for the safety of their children and to make it to the right side, the inhumane ways in which the government makes policies to torment and punish people are all explored very very well and the parallels to what’s currently happening in our country(and also around some parts of the world) are uncanny. The world building in this book is a great example of how authors take inspiration from the read world to create fantasies and how they can show a mirror to the fault lines that exist in our reality. While the idea of a school to train girls to be wives is not something new in fantasies, I found the concept of two wives - one to be an intellectual partner and the other to fulfill the more usual wifely duties felt quite unique. And though atleast the Primera being an equal partner and being involved in her husband’s politics seems like a good thing for her, the inherent misogyny of this whole concept is made glaringly obvious from the get go. The women are taught to suppress their own desires and do everything for the prosperity of the “family” which in essence means the husband. And despite all the young women being trained in the same fashion, the way they are treated differently because of their background or how close/far away from the capital they were born, is a completely hypocritical version of how the supposed marriage system has to work. The author does a great job with the main character Dani. She is strong willed, smart, dedicated to her family because they sacrificed everything for her and only wants to keep her head down and do her job as the Primera. However, with reluctance initially, she starts working for the resistance and slowly realizes the prejudices that the elite harbor for the common people and how the whole system is based on corruption. Once she sees the truths for herself, she starts making her own choices, never caring for her safety. She did come across as impulsive and not thinking through her actions sometimes, but I could totally see where she was coming from. Carmen on the other hand is mysterious, charming and flirty and I thought made a good balance to Dani’s slightly stoic demeanor. I loved the development of their relationship from being slightly antagonistic to kind of sister wives who slowly get to know each other better. The feelings they felt for each other developed very organically in the story and the aspect of it being forbidden definitely lent more intensity to their relationship. Everything else around them always felt so high stakes and almost dangerous, so I really enjoyed the bit of levity in the scenes when they were together. Their husband Mateo on the other hand is someone we do come to hate as a reader, but I never did get a good sense of him - I understood that he is more on the extreme and cruel side in his politics and too egotistical in nature, but I would have liked to know his motivations better. The writing took some getting used to for me. I’m not one for purple prose and while the author didn’t indulge too much in it, I felt the writing a little too metaphorical for my taste initially. However, I quickly fell in love with the story and got completely lost in it. There are also some very memorable scenes and conversations in the book for which I want to commend the author for her thoughtfulness. One scene which I feel will resonate with a lot of readers is when Dani shuts up a man for trying to mansplain her own life to her. It’s such a passionate piece of dialogue and I feel many women would have wanted to say something similar to a man atleast once in their life. The author also does a great job of giving her female characters the strength to discover themselves and fight for their choices in a world where they don’t really have a lot of agency. While showing the ugly reality of the government, the author doesn’t completely paint a great picture of the rebels - it’s very realistically portrayed that despite great and noble intentions, revolutions are always messy. Overall, this is a very fascinating world which feels all too real, with excellent female characters, a passionate sapphic romance and an ending that I really did not see coming. I would definitely recommend this to all lovers of fierce female leads in fantasy, but would like to remind everyone that this is not an action packed book, but a story that takes a deep look at prejudiced politics, discrimination of the already disadvantaged populace and why revolutions in such instances are inevitable.
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