Parents' Guide to

We Set the Dark on Fire

By Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Compelling dystopian fantasy with a Latinx twist.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

Handmaids Tale Vibes

Daniela Vargas is the top student at her school for girls. This particular school specializes in preparing young girls for a marriage to an important man. To be the Primera or the Segunda – one of the two wives that men of importance get. Dani has a big secret. One that could cost her life and the lives of her family. She was not born where she says she was – therefore should not be there. She is considered cursed. Drawn into a rebellious group by blackmail she has to decide whose side she is on – where her loyalties lie and who she can trust. This story drew me in – it had a definite handmaids tale vibe to it. Lots of intrigues, political drama, oppression and rebellion. There were some unexpected twists – not your typical take on ya tropes. Violence: there is a rebellion occurring – there are protests, bombings, fires and violent arrests. There are flashbacks to her childhood where their area was very unsafe. There is an oppressive and aggressive male character who uses his size and authority as a way to intimidate our female characters. Sex: It is mentioned throughout the book. There are no relations allowed between the husband and his wives until a certain age but it is apparent that he is predatory. There is a forbidden love relationship between two women but not more than kissing and “sexual awakening”. There is also mention of adultery. Language: Fairly clean. Substance: Alcohol use but minor.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Debut novelist Tehlor Kay Mejia brings a refreshing Latinx twist to the first part of this absorbing, two-volume, dystopian story. Mejia ably builds a world that feels like a Caribbean island nation, complete with a compelling mythology and peppered with Spanish or Spanish-derived words and names. And especially strong is her ability to maintain a sense of dread and menace that keeps the pages of We Set the Dark on Fire turning.

Daniela and Carmen are relatable characters learning about the world around them, as it really is, for the first time. Other characters are mostly predictable clichés, from the magnetic leaders of the rebellion to the scheming, controlling mothers-in-law. But it'll provoke a lot of thought about women in society, social inequality, the walls that keep people out, and the walls that keep people in. Strong sensuality and mature themes make it best for teens and up.

Book Details

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