We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire, #1)by Tehlor Kay Mejia Published 26 Feb 2019
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|Publisher||Katherine Tegen Books|
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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)" Reviews
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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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.
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Thanks to Edelweiss for providing me with an early review copy!
Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher, Harper Collins, via Edelweiss+ for an honest review.
I cannot tell you guys how excited I was to receive an ARC copy of this book from Edelweiss+!
So, when I started actually reading, I realized…maybe, this isn’t exactly what I imagined it to be.
But naturally, I kept reading…
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.
Nothing about the blurb sounds interesting or new, but 4 starred reviews? Can't resist...
ARC provided in exchange for honest review 🔥
. : ☾⋆ — 5 ★
READ THIS REVIEW ON MY BLOG!!!
ARC 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!!