I loved this book!
I try to stay away from dystopian novels for the most part because the plot in those books make me put on my tin foil hat and there is only so much time in the day to follow a conspiracy trail through the internet.
However, We Set the Dark on Fire gave me a different kind of chill. The story follows Daniela Vega a recently graduated student of the Medio school for girls, in which young women learn to take on the role of the Primera or Segunda wife of their husband. Medio society practices polygyny in honor of their Sun God who married the Princess and the Mood Goddess. According to legend, the Sun God respected both of his wives and treated them equally although their titles of Primera, first, and Segunda, second, suggest a hierarchy the women are not in competition with each other.
Daniela is married off to Mateo Garcia, the son of the head of Medio’s military, and is poised to be the first wife of the Medio’s future president. Mateo’s second wife is none other than Carmen Santos, Daniela’s archnemesis.
Medio is on the brink of a rebellion. For years those living in border towns and the other side of the island have been mistreated. Their place in Medio society is very low. As a result, the rebellion group, La Voz has risen to fight against a government that oppresses them.
On the eve of Daniela’s graduation, La Voz attacks her school and make contact with Daniela. Daniela was born on the other side of the Medio border and crossed with her family to settle into a border town. When Daniela became older, her parents bought her forged documents. Without Daniela’s forged documents, she would have never been considered to attend such a prestigious school. La Voz uses this information against Daniela to recruit her into becoming one of their spies, given that her new family has a lot of political influence. As events in the novel progress, Daniela starts to feel less guilty about betraying her country.
The plot of this novel is already very interesting, but the caramelo on top was the romantic subplot. After Daniela and Carmen marry Matteo, they go from enemies to friends to lovers. This is my all-time favorite trope, and it is well written in We Set the Dark on Fire. And by well written I mean there is angst and a slow burn romance.
I think the reason I ended up enjoying this novel so much, aside from the romance, was that the author embedded real issues that the Latinx community struggles with. The pain of bordering crossing, uprising against crooked governments, the prejudice of coming from the wrong side of a border, the guilt of having to succeed because if you don’t your parents struggle is wasted. I am glad these themes came up in this novel and were brought into the struggle of this fictional world. It made the characters and the experiences that much more real.
This is the second to last book on my Latinx tbr and soon I will be reading Yesika Salgado’s Corazon. I cannot wait.
Until next time continue living in libros,