We Set the Dark on Fire
Tehlor Kay Mejia
Series: We Set the Dark on Fire #1
Genre: Dystopia, Fantasy, LGBTQIAP+, YA
Publication date: February 26th, 2019
by Katherine Tegen Books
In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida Córdova and Anna-Marie McLemore, society wife-in-training Dani has a great awakening after being recruited by rebel spies and falling for her biggest rival.
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. Both paths promise 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 pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society.
And school couldn’t prepare her for the difficult choices she must make after graduation, 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 will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio—and a chance at a forbidden love?
-A copy was provided by Katherine Tegen Books for review-
Currently, I am staring at a blank document trying to figure out how words work because I am not entirely sure how to even begin to describe We Set the Dark on Fire? When I first started hearing about the book, I thought it was a fantasy but then my friend, Shannon said it was more dystopia so I really didn’t know what genre I was diving into. I did go in expecting some badass girls and I GOT SOME BADASS GIRLS.
Upon finishing, I think I can say that while this book isn’t like a futuristic sci-fic novel, labelling it dystopia is not wholly inaccurate. WHICH, if you like me stopped reading dystopia half a decade ago because it was all bland, I promise We Set the Dark on Fire is both gayer and better than any dystopia you have ever read.
At the Medio School for Girls are separated and trained for two seperate wife roles – Primera and Segunda. Primeras are cool and collected while Segundas are emotional. Daniela Vargas is about the graduate at the top of her class and be married into the most powerful family in Medio, but her future relies on no one finding out the truth – that she was born on the other side of the wall.
When Dani marries into the Garcia family as a Primera, she really doesn’t know what she is getting into. She certainly didn’t expect to have to continue dealing with Carmen – a girl who never missed a chance to put her down. AND SHE CERTAINLY didn’t expect a cold husband who is adamant on not letting her into his world. When Dani is approached with the chance to be a spy for the rebel forces, she isn’t sure she is ready to give up everything her parents worked so hard for. But the deeper she digs, the more committed she becomes to a free medio (and bringing down the motherfucking patriarchy.)
So Dani? She is one of the best characters I’ve had the chance to read about. I love that within the context of the novel, she is occasionally allowed to be selfish (when she isn’t ready to give up a safe future for an uncertain one.) I love that her bravery isn’t defined by fearlessness or overcoming fear. It is defined by her choosing to do things that make her afraid.
Carmen, the girl who was a bitch to Dani for ages, is equally well-written and I was here for the romance that blooms between the two. The shippy feels, my god, they were intense. I loved the softness between Carmen and Dani and just how good they are to one another.
The world is also very well developed. We start with the mythology and slowly move into the physical world. Honestly, I think a map would have helped a bit, especially of the main city? But that’s mostly because I love having visuals to help with physical spaces. THERE IS ALSO a bunch of food porn and I was here for it.
We Set the Dark on Fire has received a lot of hype already and I am here to tell you that the hype is not wrong. We Set the Dark on Fire is an incredibly powerful book and breathes life into a genre I was so SURE I was done with. If you’re done with the patriarchy and need a book about some badass girls, READ THIS BOOK.