We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia
“Maybe this was trust … Giving someone the power to ruin you, betting your life on the belief that they wouldn’t.”– Tehlor Kay Mejia
Book: We Set the Dark on Fire
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Published: 26th Feb’2019
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Contemporary, YA Fiction
LGBTQIA literature: Yes
Series: Part 1 of the Duology
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books ( Harper Collins Publishers)
My rating: 4/5
DANIELA VARGAS is a top student at the Media School for girls, where young women are trained to be perfect wives to distinguished men, but her pedigree is a lie. She must keep the truth hidden or be sent back to the fringes of society. But when a resistance group learns where she comes from and asks her to become one of their spies, Dani must decide will she give up everything she’s strived for in pursuit of a free Medio – and a chance at a forbidden love?
“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.”– Tehlor Kay Mejia
This is an accidental pick for this month but turned out to be so relevant. With the #blacklivesmatter movement taking place on a very resourceful and much needed way, I wanted to read books that reflect on such revolutionary times.
We set the dark on fire is not only an lgbtq literature but a revolt, against the upper class smothering the lower class and the lower class fighting for their freedom and lives.
The book is set in a world where girls from the ‘Right side’ of the wall go to a school where they are trained to either be a Primera – ‘A woman who will be an equal to her husband and rule by his side in whatever he does’ and a Segunda – ‘A woman with nothing to do but to be pretty and bear children’.
The story is from Dani’s point of view and in the beginning of the story are very questionable teachings that are taught to the girls in the Medio School.
This premise was so hurtful and it tested my patience but there was something more to the story than just this. I thought the story would be about this system being overruled.
But turns out, there is also a war happening against the class (caste) system and people are revolting against their “Rulers”.
The La Voz society that fights for the suppressed approach Dani and black mail her to become a spy for them. Meanwhile, Dani who graduates as the best Primera is married off along with Carmen – her die hard enemy, to the same family of Garcias, who happen to be running for president soon and have a core place in the havoc being raged on the lower class.
What happens next is not just rebellious and brave but also heart warming. The character development is very strong. I absolutely adore the writing and couldn’t keep the book down.
The book does end on a very good but sort of predictable twist and a cliffhanger which I think was not necessary.
I would have liked it better if they spoke about the ‘Two Wives’ thing in a negative way. Nobody seemed to have a problem with that and I am hoping that book 2 shatters this as well.
I rate this book 4/5 stars.
The plot of the book was very well set. I liked that the author gave us a lot of information but also kept some for herself.
The best character development is definitely Carmens. She goes from being a sworn enemy who uses Dani’s childhood to tease her to coming out to her as someone who just needed cover to falling in love with her and ending up being a member of La Voz.
The ending of the book, however, I am not okay with somehow. Why did Carmen have to leave? They could have built up a story to cover for the both of them right? I would have loved seeing them both sneaking off to steal some alone time when Mateo wasn’t home.
The love story was pretty amazing though. The classic enemy to love trope but in a completely magical and rebellious setting. Someone on Goodreads said, “Imagine being a weak straight man and your two wives don’t love you, and instead fall in love with each other. Instantly cursed.” I figuratively died laughing at that.
“In a battle between two men trying to control her, she’d chosen herself.”– Tehlor Kay Mejia
Coming to the main characters:
Dani: Coming from the other side of the wall, Dani’s parents gave up everything to get her into the school and her only goal is to get into a good house and fulfill her parents dreams. But when Sota approaches her and starts blackmailing her, she hesitantly helps in to protect her cover. We see her as a powerful and spontaneous young lady. She does feel for her cause and positively decided to convert into a member of the La Voz. I love how strong yet vulnerable she is. I cannot wait to see how she manages to carry on in that house without Carmen.
Carmen: I think she is a very important member of the society. The way she presents herself is admirable. I cannot wait to see more of her. Especially since she is not far away from someone that she loves so dearly.
Mateo: Can we kill him already? I hate how he is a control freak. I hate how he thinks he can rule the world with his cruelty. I hate how he treats the two girls. He is a perverted and privileged piece of shit and somebody that I relate a lot of real-life leaders to. The way he pushes himself on women is so disgusting and I feel like a thousand insects are crawling under my skin.
Reasons to pick up the book:
- LGBTQ plus literature
- Strong female characters
- Great plot and writing
- Very relevant for current times
- Fast read
- Page turner
- Tests your patience in the beginning (this is subjective)
- Ends on a cliffhanger which is making me anxious becasue we don’t really have answers
- Predictable to a certain extent
- The violence can be a trigger
“You have a big heart, a strong mind, and you will find a way to make a life you love. No matter how different it is from the one you left.”– Tehlor Kay Mejia