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We Set the Dark on Fire Hardcover – 4 Apr 2019
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“We Set the Dark on Fire burns bright... it will light the way for a new generation of rebels and lovers.” (NPR.org)
“With its achingly slow-burn romance and incisive examination of power structures, this is a masterfully constructed novel, made all the more impressive as it’s a debut.” (ALA Booklist (starred review))
“A richly constructed world full of fantasy and diversity, with a mystery that will keep them guessing until the very end.” (School Library Journal (starred review))
“This fierce, feminist novel throws memorable characters into a provocative set of circumstances, and the constant twists will leave readers yearning for the conclusion.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
”This well-crafted fantasy offers a mirror that reflects themes in our own difficult world, namely privilege, immigration, and individualism versus the common good. A queer subplot with sensual tenderness adds rich complexity to the story. Thrilling and timely.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, We Set the Dark on Fire burns with parallels to today’s biggest news headlines. Readers will walk away with thought-provoking questions to ponder, and the story’s ending will ignite further fascination. (BookPage (starred review))
“Mejia’s debut creates a lush and beautiful Latinx-inspired world featuring complex female characters. With thrilling adventure, unexpected twists and a cliffhanger ending, readers will clamor for the next installment.” (Shelf Awareness (starred review))
“Mejia pens a compelling, gripping story that mirrors real world issues of immigration and equality.” (Buzzfeed)
“We Set the Dark on Fire is dystopian YA as you’ve only dreamed it could be. Mejia’s story is specific yet universal, intricate and vast; it’s fire and smoke and the phoenix rising from the ashes.” (Tor.com)
“With lots of action and palace intrigue, the novel is a page turner.” (New York Journal of Books)
About the Author
Tehlor Kay Mejia is an author and Oregon native in love with the alpine meadows and evergreen forests of her home state, where she lives with her daughter. We Set the Dark on Fire is her first novel. You can follow her on Twitter @tehlorkay.
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At the Medio School for Schools, upper-class young women are training for one of two roles in society: Primeras or Segundas. They will either run her husbands household or raise his children, but both entail a life of luxury. Daniela Vargas is the schools top student, primed to be the Primera to a high ranking military official’s son. But she has a secret, one she must keep hidden or risk being sent back to the fringes of society. When she’s asked to spy for a resistance group striving to bring equality to Medio, Dani must choose: cling onto the privilege her parents fought for her or give up everything for a free Medio, and maybe a chance at forbidden love?
You are all going to love this, and I am very serious about that.
I’m going to be completely honest here and let you know that I read this back in October 2018 whilst I was in Ibiza, and have been in a huge blogging and reading slump since then, and therefore this review will probably not do this fantastic book justice. But first things first — I was already a huge fan of Tehlor Kay Mejia after reading her phenomenal short stories in All Out and Toil & Trouble and was definitely hyped to get my hands on an e-ARC, and she did not disappoint. This was everything I wanted and more. I’ve not seen nearly enough hype for this amazing book. Why are you all sleeping on this?!
When We Set the Dark on Fire was such an immediate favourite for me and I couldn’t put it down. It features intricate storytelling, a beautifully crafted world, political intrigue, uprising and fighting against injustice, and a message so relevant in today’s climate. It has a Latinx main character and a passionate, swoon-worthy, enemies-to-lovers f/f romance. I can’t wait to see how this develops in the next book.
Dani was a protagonist I quickly fell in love with. She’s dedicated and loyal and also torn between wanting equality in Medio and also her commitment as a Primera. It also ends on a huge cliffhanger which has made me all the more eager for the sequel.
It’s a book that will stay with you for ages because I’m pretty sure it was book hangover from this that put me in a 3-month reading slump. I am in love with this book, and you all will be too.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Overall, there were some aspects in this world that I don’t think have been fully fleshed out, but the book was great. You’re kept wondering until the very last few pages, and I’m already SO ready for book 2.
4.5/5 stars- I would recommend this to fans of the genre, in addition to less avid readers if they’re searching for LGTBQ representation.
First, the worldbuilding was delightful. It was unabashedly Latinx in the food, the colors, the language; and even beyond the obvious, it's woven into all the coziest parts of the world. Everything felt so lively! The society was appropriately infuriating, starting from the myth that served as the book's prologue. I wanted to throw punches starting on page three.
(But I feel it's worth noting that this righteous anger was fun, in a way, because it never felt hopeless. And unlike Ember in the Ashes, the threat of rape didn't smack you in the face every chapter. That was nice.)
I love Dani so much. Our protagonist, the reader's centerpiece for the rebellion, is initially NOT here for a rebellion. She is a frightened survivalist of a young woman who uses a sharp analytical mind and a hundred masks to fake her way through high society. She has so much heart and spends so much time smothering it.
Which means that there is so much delicious character development and dynamic to be had here. Dani changes, and she changes the people around her and reflects them in such interesting ways. And the romance...! It was unbelievably tender. I was holding my breath the whole time. I think the plot was very well paced, especially considering Dani's analytical habits. And I was so invested that I nearly threw the book when I finished it.
But the last thing I have to talk about is the writing. The phrasing was so vivid. Every aspect of a description was in motion, and every action was colorful. It was captivating. I get the feeling Mejia's writing is only going to get more enchanting from here.
If I had been thrilled by the rest, I'd continue to read the series anyway, but I found the plot derivative (despite the laudable twist) and the writing uninspired.
The writer has potential, and I hope the author is not too wrapped in this series to do more writing with more original storylines.
Cool concept, meh execution. It would be cool to see more casual Latin/Hispanic influence in other novels though. I did like that part.