MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Mejia

We Set the Dark on Fire

by Tehlor Mejia

We Set the Dark on Fire by  Tehlor Mejia X
We Set the Dark on Fire by  Tehlor Mejia
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Feb 2019, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2020, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Szczechowski
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About this Book

Book Summary

In this daring and romantic fantasy debut by 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?

1

The key to a Primera's strength is her restraint and immunity to scandal. She must not only behave like someone with nothing to hide—she must have nothing to hide.

—Medio School for Girls Handbook, 14th edition

DANIELA VARGAS WOKE AT THE first whisper of footsteps coming up the road.

By the time the sound of shattering glass in the courtyard alerted the campus to the presence of intruders, she was dressed and ready. For what? She wasn't sure. After a childhood of heavy-footed military police in close pursuit, she knew better than to mistake the luxury of her surroundings for safety.

She was only as safe as she was vigilant.

The shouting grew louder. There had been rumors of riots at the border for months, in the capital for weeks, but Dani hadn't thought they'd make it as far as the Medio School for Girls' gated sanctuary. The campus was private and insulated: white stone, lush greenery. A place where the country's brightest and most promising young women could train ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

With a lush setting, a fast-moving plot, strong social commentary and two powerful Latina women at the forefront, We Set the Dark on Fire offers a distinct Handmaiden's Tale vibe, while still being entirely original...continued

Full Review (604 words).

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(Reviewed by Erin Szczechowski).

Media Reviews

New York Journal of Books
The politics in We Set the Dark on Fire are shallow and superficial. There’s good and then there’s evil—enough said. And Dani’s tentative foray into romance, which increasingly takes center stage as the novel progresses, often reads more middle schoolish than newlywed. But still, with lots of action and palace intrigue, the novel is a page turner. And in the present-day dystopia that is Donald Trump’s America, it’s damn good to see a young, queer, feminist heroine rising to the occasion as she grapples with so many timely and relevant issues.

BookPage
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.

Booklist
Starred Review. 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.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. A richly constructed world full of fantasy and diversity, with a mystery that will keep them guessing until the very end.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Well crafted...A queer subplot with sensual tenderness adds rich complexity to the story. Thrilling and timely.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The first in a duology, this fierce, feminist novel throws memorable characters into a provocative set of circumstances, and the constant twists will leave readers yearning for the conclusion.

Author Blurb Tochi Onyebuchi, author of Beasts Made of Night
Tehlor Kay Mejia has fashioned a gripping tale of romance and rebellion. Dani captivated me and held my heart in a vice grip all the way to this book's stunning conclusion.

Author Blurb Audrey Coulthurst, author of Of Fire and Stars
We Set the Dark on Fire simmers with political revolution and forbidden love between two powerful young women - I couldn't put it down.

Author Blurb New York Times bestselling author Traci Chee
A vivid tale of political intrigue, power, and resistance that will thrill the hearts of readers.

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Beyond the Book

Young Adult Dystopian Novels

In Tehlor Kay Mejia's debut novel We Set the Dark on Fire, men marry two wives – one Primera, who is logical and controlled, and one Segunda, who is beautiful and passionate. However, when Dani, a young Primera, joins the resistance as a spy, she becomes determined to invert the whole system. Dystopian novels, while often set in alternate versions of the future, remain a powerful way of critiquing the status quo, and seem to have exploded in popularity in the YA genre. So if you're craving more YA dystopia, here's five that I personally recommend:


The cover of The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: This trilogy of novels is set in the nation of Panem, where each of 12 districts must offer ...

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