We Set the Dark on Fire
We Set the Dark on Fire

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Annotation: When she is asked to spy for a resistance group working to bring equality to Medio, Daniela Vargas, a student at the Medio School for Girls, questions everything she has worked for.
Catalog Number: #202940
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Pages: 364 pages
Availability: Available
New Title: Yes
ISBN: Publisher: 0-06-269132-5 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-6953-4
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-06-269132-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-6953-2
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018056406
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
Power, truth, and lies intertwine dangerously in Mejia's debut novel about oppression and resistance with a cunning Latinx teenage heroine.Medio, an island nation divided by a wall, is literally in between extremes: "On one side there was the might of a nation. On the other, desperation." Clear parallels to Mexico in imagery and themes abound. Born on the wrong side of the wall without legal papers, 17-year-old brown-skinned Daniela "Dani" Vargas graduates after 5 years of diligent training at an elite finishing school to join the powerful Garcia family as their son's Primera. In this well-constructed world, an ancient mythology forms the basis for a practice in which husbands have two wives each: Primeras are quick-witted and emotionally restrained while Segundas are brave and passionate. When Dani's Primera training falters in the face of her ruthless, power-hungry husband, her past overwhelms her present, and she is recruited to spy for the resistance. Excerpts from the Medio School for Girls rulebook precede each chapter, a juxtaposition that effectively reveals Dani's conflicted self-awakening. An action-packed third-person narrative, smart dialogue, and lush descriptions offer readers a fresh and steely heroine in a contemporary coming-of-age story. This well-crafted fantasy offers a mirror that reflects themes in our own difficult world, namely privilege, immigration, and individualism versus the common good. A queer subplot with sensual tenderness adds rich complexity to the story.Thrilling and timely. (Fantasy. 14-18)
Publishers Weekly
In this debut starring Latina teens, Mejia spins a complicated tale of love, intrigue, moral compromise, and action, with a prescient sensibility that echoes current headlines and political issues. In an island nation divided by a wall, where tradition dictates that upper-class women marry out of duty and that every man has two wives, two school rivals are matched with the ambitious scion of a political family. Danielle Vargas, 17, has trained for years to be the perfect Primera, the ideal intellectual partner for her husband-to-be, while her friend-turned-foe, Carmen Santos, was born to be a Segunda, the passionate nurturer of the family. But the husband they must share, Mateo Garcia, is cold, domineering, secretive, and utterly uninterested in Danielle-s desire to help. When a revolutionary group uncovers her greatest secret-she-s from the impoverished side of the walled country and holds forged identity papers-they blackmail her into spying on the Garcia family. Even as Danielle becomes further embroiled in conspiracy and subversion, she and Carmen forge an unexpected and intense relationship. 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. Ages 14-up. Agent: Jim McCarthy, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Feb.)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 8 Up As the top Primera of the Medio School for Girls, Dani has spent the last five years trying to forget the world her parents fought hard to leave behindthe world beyond the border wall, where people are dying of hunger and illness. Dani has learned to check her emotions and prepare to be her husband's equal, a partner who will help him in all things political. Then she is paired with longtime enemy Carmen Santos, a Segunda who, with her beauty and grace, completes the third side of the marriage triangle to Mateo. When Sota, a member of La Voza group seeking to bring down the government that keeps people like Dani's family in the marginssaves Dani by providing her with legitimate documents to keep the government from discovering her true origins, Dani becomes entwined in the group's goals, using her role as Mateo's wife to pass on his plans to the rebellion. As Dani becomes more involved with La Voz, she struggles to keep her feelings for Carmen at bayemotions that, in Medio, are forbidden. Intricate mythology sets the scene for a cast of characters full of complex motivations. Readers will find themselves drawn to a richly constructed world full of fantasy and diversity, with a mystery that will keep them guessing until the very end. VERDICT A must-have fantasy filled with action and political intrigue. Selenia Paz, Harris County Public Library, Houston, TX
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Power, truth, and lies intertwine dangerously in Mejia's debut novel about oppression and resistance with a cunning Latinx teenage heroine.Medio, an island nation divided by a wall, is literally in between extremes: "On one side there was the might of a nation. On the other, desperation." Clear parallels to Mexico in imagery and themes abound. Born on the wrong side of the wall without legal papers, 17-year-old brown-skinned Daniela "Dani" Vargas graduates after 5 years of diligent training at an elite finishing school to join the powerful Garcia family as their son's Primera. In this well-constructed world, an ancient mythology forms the basis for a practice in which husbands have two wives each: Primeras are quick-witted and emotionally restrained while Segundas are brave and passionate. When Dani's Primera training falters in the face of her ruthless, power-hungry husband, her past overwhelms her present, and she is recruited to spy for the resistance. Excerpts from the Medio School for Girls rulebook precede each chapter, a juxtaposition that effectively reveals Dani's conflicted self-awakening. An action-packed third-person narrative, smart dialogue, and lush descriptions offer readers a fresh and steely heroine in a contemporary coming-of-age story. This well-crafted fantasy offers a mirror that reflects themes in our own difficult world, namely privilege, immigration, and individualism versus the common good. A queer subplot with sensual tenderness adds rich complexity to the story.Thrilling and timely. (Fantasy. 14-18)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* In Medio, a myth tells of the Sun God, who took two wives, one wise and loyal, the other sensual and nurturing. Now, selected young women train to become the dual wives of the nation's politicians: the Primera to be his partner in work and business, and the Segunda to run his home and family. Daniela's poor parents lied to get her into the school, hoping to secure her a better future, and indeed, Dani has become the top Primera student, keeping her emotions in check and her forged papers a secret. Mateo, her new husband, seems strangely cold and cruel, and it doesn't help that the family has chosen Dani's longtime rival, Carmen, as their Segunda. But the worst comes when Dani is contacted by a resistance group and asked to spy on Mateo and politicos like him. As she learns more about Mateo's narrow-mindedness and oppressive politics nd as she and Carmen grow startlingly closer ni's sympathy for the resistance grows, but is there even a life for her beyond this one? Like the revolution, Mejia's world is carefully built. 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. This timely examination of how women move through the world is potent and precise, and readers will be eager for the sequel.
Reading Level: 6.1
Interest Level: 9-12

" We Set the Dark on Fire burns bright. It will light the way for a new generation of rebels and lovers." --NPR.org "Mejia pens a compelling, gripping story that mirrors real world issues of immigration and equality." --Buzzfeed Five starred reviews In this daring and romantic fantasy debut perfect for fans of The Handmaid's Tale and Latinx authors Zoraida C rdova 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?


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