There are no words to describe the emotional journey I went through reading We Set the Dark on Fire. This book completely had me in a completely different headspace from the time I picked it up to the time I put it down, and the only thing I can say is that Tehlor Kay Mejia is an amazing writer.
In Medio, society is divided by a wall—which is really similar to a little something going on in America today—that separates two communities. Inside, there are the people chosen by the Sun God (the “civilized” folk) and outside reside those chosen by the Salt God (the “savage” ones). The closer these people are to the capital, the more accepted they are. The elite men hold all the power, most especially in their marriages. Since the privileged model their society on the way the Sun God lived, they each had two wives: the Primera, who will essentially be his right hand, and the Segunda, who is there to love and birth kids for him. This has been their tradition ever since. Daniela, or Dani, as we get to know her, goes to a school where elite girls are trained to be perfect Primeras and Segundas while the rest of the population is having trouble living.
Dani is hiding a secret, though. She’s actually crossed the border, and her parents have risked everything to get her in the Medio School for Girls. La Voz, the resistance group, blackmail Dani to spy on her new husband and find a way to overthrow the current system. But as Dani continues to do what they say, the more she realizes that maybe they really aren’t the evil ones in the story after all.
This book was nothing short of amazing. It’s an unsettlingly prescient read for the current state of the U.S. government—it’s literally about wall-crossing /illegal/ immigrants—and really fitting read. We Set the Dark on Fire has everything: a forbidden sapphic relationship, religious undertones, revolution, political intrigue, an unexpected betrayal, personal growth, and heartwrenching moments. Any literature piece about smashing the patriarchy is bound to win me over, and this book succeeded in that and more.
Dani is so easy to relate to and even easier to love. I found it incredibly cool how she could melt into whichever roles she needed to play without a moment’s notice—especially because not many characters in YA could do that. Her evolution from a timid bystander to a strong participant was so damn good to read, and her actions really made me want to go out and just do something. That’s how good Tehlor Kay Mejia’s writing is.
But what really made this novel stand out from the rest is how it doubles as a realistic metaphor for the current state of America. I know I’ve said this earlier, but it really had all the elements that fit the America Trump wants to create. There’s a lot of talk on who gets to be the rightful citizen and the wrongful one, a lot of play in power dynamics when it comes to wealth and gender, and there’s also the radical way in which the privileged men in the novel talk about those lower than them.
I could easily spend two more hours talking about how great We Set the Dark on Fire is. The plot twist at the end completely caught me off guard, and I can’t wait for the next one. Overall, I really recommend this to anyone and everyone. The book comes out on February 26, and you’d definitely miss out if you don’t pick up a copy!
Are you a fan of novels with political intrigue? There’s only so many of them out there, and only a few seem to have made it in my hands! If you have any recommendations for me, leave them in the comments below!
Title: We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1)
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Source: ARC via Edelweiss
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
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