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We Set the Dark on Fire #2

We Unleash the Merciless Storm

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In this nail-biting sequel to Tehlor Kay Mejia’s critically acclaimed fantasy novel We Set the Dark on Fire, La Voz operative Carmen is forced to choose between the girl she loves and the success of the rebellion she’s devoted her life to. Perfect for fans of The Handmaid’s Tale and Anna-Marie McLemore.

Being a part of the resistance group La Voz is an act of devotion and desperation. On the other side of Medio’s border wall, the oppressed class fights for freedom and liberty, sacrificing what little they have to become defenders of the cause.

Carmen Santos is one of La Voz’s best soldiers. She spent years undercover, but now, with her identity exposed and the island on the brink of a civil war, Carmen returns to the only real home she’s ever known: La Voz’s headquarters.

There she must reckon with her beloved leader, who is under the influence of an aggressive new recruit, and with the devastating news that her true love might be the target of an assassination plot. Will Carmen break with her community and save the girl who stole her heart—or fully embrace the ruthless rebel she was always meant to be?

400 pages, Hardcover

First published February 25, 2020

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About the author

Tehlor Kay Mejia

16 books1,021 followers
TEHLOR KAY MEJIA is a bestselling and award winning author of young adult and middle grade fiction.

Her debut young adult novel, WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE, received six starred reviews, as well as the Oregon Spirit Book Award for debut fiction, and the Neukom Institute Literary Arts Award runner up honor for debut speculative fiction. It has been featured on Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and O by Oprah Magazine’s best books lists, and was a 2019 book of the year selection by Kirkus and School Library Journal. Its sequel, WE UNLEASH THE MERCILESS STORM, followed to continuing acclaim, while MISS METEOR (co-written with National Book Award Nominee Anna-Marie McLemore) was named to the American Library Association’s 2021 Rainbow List, honoring outstanding contributions in LGBTQIA teen fiction.

Tehlor’s debut middle grade novel, PAOLA SANTIAGO AND THE RIVER OF TEARS, was published by the Rick Riordan Presents imprint at Disney/Hyperion. It received four starred reviews, and was named Amazon’s best book of 2020 in the 9-12 age range. It is currently in development at Disney as a television series to be produced by Eva Longoria.

Tehlor lives with her daughter, partner, and two small dogs in Oregon, where she grows heirloom corn and continues her quest to perfect the vegan tamale. She is active on Twitter and Instagram @tehlorkay.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 746 reviews
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
June 14, 2022
Um… so this was disappointing.

After an excellent book one focused around two girls falling in love and the politics of revolution, I was really excited for book two, focused around book one love interest Carmen as she tries to find her way between ruthless rebel and lover. But. The execution? Was not amazing.

This was not the worst book I have read. This book is an excellent warning to remember the human aspect of any type of revolution; to remember that, when fighting for freedom, human life still matters. People still bleed. Carmen is forced to choose between herself and her cause, which serves for an interesting arc. The scene in which Carmen is forced to cross a border is particularly excellent, rivaling the best of book one. I genuinely liked Carmen and found her decently compelling as a lead.

On paper, this book is good. But in practice… I feel like I wasted my time.

The problem is that We Set the Dark on Fire bases its appeal off the tension between Carmen and Dani. In this book, they do not reunite until 50% of the way through the book, and it is frankly boring. Which shocks me to type, by the way. In book one, the tension between Carmen and Dani was genuinely never boring to me.

It makes more sense, however, when I remember just how repetitive this book was. We get it, Ari is evil. We get it, Carmen feels guilty over her betrayal. We get it, she has feelings for Dani, but maybe there’s angst about it. We get it, she’s not sure whether Alex trusts her. Mejia also tends to rely on tell, not show, for her characters, and here, with no actual interaction between Dani and Carmen, the telling gnawed at me. I don’t want to be told that Carmen misses Dani for 200 pages, regardless of how invested I am in how much she misses Dani. Show me.

Maybe as a result of this, I actually found myself struggling to invest in Carmen here. Her character is on the precipice of a decision, and is desperate to get Dani back, and cares for Alex and Sota too. There is no reason she should not drive the plot with ease. But… it feels like the plot happens to her. And yes, this was true of book one at times, but there was a reason for that; Dani and Carmen’s situation was helpless, trapped. Carmen is doing things in this book. There is no reason for her to be boring, and it is frankly a crime that she is.

Oh. And the plot twist is really painfully obvious, and not satisfying enough to make up for it. You could guess the twist in book one, too, but you cared so much that it didn’t matter. This… why on earth do we care about the characters involved?

All in all, while book one felt dynamic, this feels, frankly, stagnant. I honestly think this just needed another round of editing. It really wasn’t awful. It was just. Deeply mediocre. I’m going to pretend this doesn’t exist and reread the Dani/Carmen scenes from We Set the Dark on Fire now.

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Shelved as 'unreleased'
June 13, 2019
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,779 followers
Want to read
December 21, 2021
Update 4/16/20:

I am putting this back on the shelf at 38%.

While I really enjoyed this first book, this is just not holding my attention. I'm not sure if it is me, the book, or just life, but I need to move on.

For now, I am leaving it on my 'to be read' shelf versus DNF. The future is unclear whether or not I will return to this story...


I just died.
RIP me.

This is exceptionally beautiful.

Added bonus that I cannot wait to continue with this story. You know I will be preordering the heck out of this book!
Profile Image for Cande.
1,030 reviews181 followers
January 7, 2021
What I love from this book:

*Character growth
*10 times gayer
*Higher stakes, more intense and darker
*Found family

I was in awe of this sequel, Tehlor not only expanded the world-building but also showed a whole new side of the characters that we haven’t seen before. The duality of Carmen, her shadows and lights, her fears and pains. Oh god, it was so painful to read but amazing. She goes on such an incredible self-journey that left me with tears in my eyes. It’s clear with this book how this series is all about individual and collective rebellion. And Carmen’s revolution is CHEF’S KISS.

Let me tell you, friends, this book is way gayer. Carmen’s love and heartache were so raw and out of the page. Dani and Carmen’s relationship is very intense, revolutionary and powerful. There’s banter! And kisses! And important discussions to make their relationship grow! But also, their love for each other is so unapologetic and big and an unstoppable force that I was so taken aback for a minute. How much I needed that from Latinx sapphic girls. It gave me ten more years of life.

The book kept me at the edge of the seat, holding tight with fear as things were very tricky, dangerous and hopeless. While we understood everything Dani sacrificed, she still was living in the privileged part of the Medio, here, here we see what it means to be poor and an immigrant in this world. It’s painfully, very painfully, realistic, a hard slap in the face. However, Tehlor would never leave us without hope, and this story is also such a beautiful portrait of a community, of family, of love.

As an immigrant, let me tell you, community is essential for our survival. My heart hurt, hurt from seeing all these people, who have so much to lose, coming together to protect and care. The goodness of humanity, connecting to other people’s pain and suffering, is a big part of the story. And I love Carmen’s realization about how it’s, in its own way, an act of revolution, too.

That’s one thing I took from this book: how revolution can look so different and it’s all equally important. Revolution is not only fighting, small acts of defiance or resistance are also part of the revolution.

I mentioned found family, too, and I’m not sure exactly how to talk about it without revealing anything. But friends, it’s AMAZING and one of my favorite things in the book. This book is very much Latinx, and you’re probably tired of me talking about it, but there’s so much POWER of a group of different, equally strong and brave, Latinx people forming a loyal and fierce family.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm was fantastic, nothing like I have ever read, exquisite. And yes, my favorite book of the series, and one of the best books of my life.
Profile Image for solanne.
196 reviews477 followers
May 17, 2020
5 stars

The thing about We Unleash the Merciless Storm is that it has so many layers intricately woven together that I don’t think I could ever find the right words to do it justice. I’m still reeling from just how much it managed to take me by surprise, pulling me in from the very first sentence and only spitting me back up again after its final pages, feeling as if I’d just been punched in the gut.

This book picks up right after the events of We Set the Dark On Fire. Carmen has been discovered to be a spy and her cover is blown, forcing her to go into hiding. She returns to La Voz, the cause she has devoted her entire life to, leaving Dani behind, heartbroken. However she comes to realize that in her absence, her home has not quite remained as she left it all those years ago. The leader she had once looked up to as a father has turned his back on the values the group had cherished, and Carmen is faced with a difficult choice; stick to the cause she has grown up with, knowing that anything less than her utter devotion to it could result in her death, or defy the La Voz, going after the girl she loves.

While I loved Dani’s POV in We Set the Dark On Fire, it’s clear that Carmen’s voice is by far the strongest out of the two and is certainly one of the main reasons that the sequel is so compelling. Carmen’s character is absolutely fascinating. Her inner conflict is so well written, and it’s riveting to watch her as she wrestles with her own heart, choosing what she is prepared to fight for and how she’s willing to do it. As Carmen realises that her values no longer align with the resistance, she begins to question the methods of the rebellion and decides that she is tired of being told what to do and what to believe. She comes to understand that while the rebellion is so much bigger than one person, she can make a difference though her own personal acts of defiance. I can’t tell you just how empowering it was to follow her as she grew more sure of herself and confident in her abilities, finally breaking free of her past and standing up for what what she believes in.

Another one of the driving factors of the story is Dani and Carmen’s relationship, and although it was already fantastically written in the first book, their bond gets so much deeper and more complex in this one. Because their trust has been broken, they’re tentative to build it back up again and it’s not an easy journey. They’re both afraid of being vulnerable, scared of hurting one another and being hurt in return. Their relationship is imperfect and messy and they aren’t always the best at communicating their wants or needs, but they manage to find ways to work out their issues, helping them grow stronger not only as a couple but also as individuals. Carmen and Dani’s romance is genuinely one of my absolute favourites out there. Their love is so big and brave and beautiful, and with each other’s support, they can change the world.

However despite the fact that this book still takes place on the same island as its prequel, it was definitely a stark comparison to We Set the Dark On Fire, showing us the unpolished, gritty perspective of those living on the other side of Medio’s border wall. The world building grew much richer and more vibrant, exploring so many important themes through its painful depiction of those oppressed by the rich and powerful. Mejia delves into systematic oppression, classism, and misogyny in this story, and I especially appreciated her exploration of the harsh yet realistic realities of immigrants in a world that sees them as something to be trodden on. I admire the author’s ability to intertwine these issues with her story, tying them to Carmen’s growth and her role in the rebellion. It’s all so masterfully connected that I’m left in awe of Mejia’s talent, desperate to see what she’ll come up with next.

The plot was also flawlessly executed. The stakes were so much higher in this one and left me on the edge of my seat throughout the novel, terrified of what was going to happen, yet unable to put it down. The buildup was steady and intense, giving the plot time to unfold in tandem with Carmen and Dani’s character arcs, finally culminating perfectly in the last few chapters. Although I know that some might be dissatisfied by the fact that the ending was so open, I personally found that it exceeded all my expectations. I think that while there’s definitely more of the world and characters for Mejia to explore if she chose to, the way the conclusion was written was exactly what the story needed and I was entirely satisfied by how it was all wrapped up.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm is a gripping story that doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, showing us a brutal world where survival isn’t easy. It sends a powerful message about love and justice and equality, about fighting for what you believe in no matter the cost. But most importantly, it reminds us that there’s always hope. It’s a story that left its mark on my heart, and one I don’t see myself forgetting anytime soon.

. . . . . .

we did it, the sapphics won. everyone can go home now.
Profile Image for Wilmarie .
119 reviews25 followers
March 22, 2020
This book is perfect. That is all.
If you don't feel like reading the whole review then those two sentences are enough to explain how I feel. If you want to know why the book is perfect go on.

If you have not read We Set The Dark On Fire do not read this review. I will try to keep it spoiler-free but only for this book.

The thing I love the most about this book is Carmen as a character. In We Set The Dark On Fire we barely get to know her as a character if anything at all. I did not like her, did not trust her, and I was right not to. But in this sequel, we follow Carmen's point of view and man did I love her. I don't want to hate on Dani but she was nothing compared to Carmen. Carmen was such a strong character who was set in her beliefs and did not let anything or anyone get in her way. The things she did for her beliefs and for love, I wish I could say I would do the same but I would not.
We also got to see Carmen's back story and from what I can remember we did not get flashbacks but got to know about her backstory by her comparing it to the present and how it contrasted with what she grew up with. This showed how much of a badass she is and why she did the things she did.

This story was so action-packed and I was living for it. I mean, We Set The Dark On Fire from what I can remember was anything but action-packed but this sequel makes it up.

One of my main complaints with We Set The Dark On Fire was how the characters trusted each other way too fast. I'm not just talking about the main relationship but in general. In this sequel, everything was questioned and I loved every second of it. I felt like there was no reason why they suddenly trusted each other and the romance happened in .5 second. It went from I hate you to I love and desire you in one conversation. ONE CONVERSATION and now that they are separated that is questioned.

The last thing I loved including something I did not like was the ending. It was the ending we deserved except for two things. This is a spoiler so SPOILER ALERT I disliked that we didn't get to see how Mateo was imprisoned using the excuse that Carmen was poisoned. That's not even talking about how the poison can drive you mad with just one drop yet Dani was able to suck it out and be okay, plot hole anyone? SPOILER ALERT OVER. The last thing I dislike was how nicely everything wrapped up. Yes, it's the ending we deserve but it's also the ending that made no sense but none of that matters because I loved this book and in my eyes it is perfect.
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you Edelweiss+ and the publisher for the chance to read an e-arc.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews1,692 followers
October 14, 2020
I think this may be an unpopular opinion, but I think I liked We Unleash the Merciless Storm more than We Set The Dark on Fire??

- Following the events of We Set The Dark on Fire, this book follows Carmen, a girl who returns to the resistance that raised her, only to find that loyalties are now splintered, no one trusts her, and her love may be in grave danger.
- I really enjoyed Carmen as a protagonist. While Dani may be more calm and measured of the two, Carmen is a spark away from a roaring bonfire. Carmen is impulsive and foolhardy, but she also has a good heart and does what she thinks is right.
- The tension in this was great! The stakes were high, moments so taut they could cut, and there was so much angst and yearning between my two sapphic rebels. The conflicts were believable too.
- I also really enjoyed that this book explores the importance of resistance, but also recognises the very human core of resistance - that it's people who fight, people who risk their lives, people who resistances live through.
- I can imagine how hard it is to give an ending that readers want - it can disappoint or fall flat, but the end was satisfying, heavy, yet hopeful.

Trigger/content warning:
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,717 reviews856 followers
July 14, 2022
#1) We Set the Dark on Fire ★★★★☆

Trigger warnings for .

Representation: Carmen (mc) & Dani (li) are latinx and sapphic.

BlogTrigger Warning DatabaseStoryGraph
Profile Image for Anniek.
1,761 reviews648 followers
May 17, 2020
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

This had second book syndrome. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed it. And I LOVE the romance. But I felt like I often feel about sequels, especially when it's the second book in a series: like it just did not live up to the first book. And in this case, the first book was SO GOOD. So I'm really sad about this.
Profile Image for Sahitya.
1,032 reviews206 followers
February 26, 2020
This is one of my most highly anticipated sequels of this year and I’m so so happy that I was able to read it as soon as it released. I absolutely adored We Set the Dark on Fire and had huge expectations from this one as well, and the author doesn’t disappoint.

The previous book ends on an intense cliffhanger and the author doesn’t let up by starting off almost at the next moment, but this time the story being told through Carmen’s POV. The story in this book takes place in just a few days, so the pacing, tension and the action is absolutely relentless, not giving us any time to take a breath or relax. There was a sense of danger at every moment that the author managed to create, making me scared for my beloved characters all the time and I think the ability to sustain this sense of dread for a whole book was genius. But even during all these tension filled pages, there is so much emotion and love and vulnerability, and I’m amazed at the author’s ability to balance them all.

While the first book was all about building up this unjust world and it’s cruel discrimination towards the poor and underprivileged, this book is all about what it means to be part of a resistance and fighting for a cause. In this day and age where we see many resistance movements across the world trying to stand up to authoritarian forces, the book rightly has some timely commentary on the importance of believing in a cause and fighting for it, but also about never putting one or two leaders above the cause itself. Through the characters’ thoughts and actions, we see how the strength of a resistance is in remaining loyal to all the people, in trying to build a community and figuring out ways to live, not just survive.

There is also something we read or see a lot in media, about how love is a weakness that distracts you from your path and the author dismantles this perspective beautifully, showing how love in its different forms - romantic, platonic, sisterhood, found family - is a source of unimaginable strength and it gives us much more reason to survive and fight and succeed.

We get the whole story through Carmen’s POV and I loved getting to know her more deeply. She is very conflicted after her experiences from the first book, unsure if she believes in the resistance anymore - particularly its leadership which seems to have changed direction and started using its people as disposable pawns - and is also worried how she can reconcile her faith in the cause with her love for Dani. Even though the story takes place in just a few days, we see Carmen go through a gamut of emotions, think and realize what is important to her, and though she does act impulsively at times which made me want to chide her, she ultimately does what she truly believes in her heart without ever compromising on her principles or giving up her love. I especially admired her belief that the cause and the people for whom they are fighting are the most important thing, not the leaders.

It almost felt like Dani was only present for a very short time in the book (it’s probably half) and most of their time together was spent in trying to run and survive and fight. But I’m glad that they got to talk about their feelings, understand what is important to each of them and then support each other unconditionally in their final stand.

We get to know a few more resistance members better this time and it was actually nice to see Sota again. He really is a sweet boy and true believer. I also liked how decisive and strong a leader Alex was, with some excellent support from Jasmin. I really liked the author stressing on the importance and power of sisterhood, especially towards the end when they were all tested. The final chapter really was the epitome and realization of what they were fighting for.

To conclude, this book is as exciting and intense as I wanted it to be and I rushed through it because I couldn’t put it down. If you like your YA fantasies to be full of a group of women trying to fight and lead a resistance against an oppressive government, along with a beautiful love story, then this duology is perfect for you. It is fast paced, it is eye opening, it will make you question your own beliefs and finally leave you feeling hope. As someone who prefers more clear cut endings, the climax here felt a little dissatisfactory to me because it was too open ended and just leaves us hoping that the characters end up achieving what they set out to do without ever getting to know the results.
Profile Image for jocelyn.
430 reviews249 followers
April 28, 2020
2.5 stars

oof really in the minority on this one. i loved the set up with dani in wstdof but i could not connect with carmen's pov the same way. the pacing was also v bumpy.
Profile Image for Stella ☆Paper Wings☆.
524 reviews46 followers
May 14, 2020
I really enjoyed this book, just not quite as much as We Set the Dark on Fire. There's somewhat of a change of setting from the first book, which made We Unleash the Merciless Storm read a lot more like your typical YA dystopia with the rebellion against the government. One of the things I loved about the first book was the unique twist on dystopia in the structure of the social hierarchy, and that wasn't very present in this book.

The fictional myths and legends were just as good as in the first book, and I appreciate that it was explored more fully and brought into the "real world" more than in the first book. I do wish this concept had been explored even further, but I still liked it. While we miss out on the romance for a significant portion of the book, it is as excellent and well-balanced with the plot as it was in the first book.

Although this book fell somewhat short of the expectations I had following We Set the Dark on Fire, I very much enjoyed this series as a whole, and I'm so excited to see what Tehlor Kay Mejia comes out with next!
Profile Image for m.
349 reviews52 followers
November 28, 2019


rep: sapphic Latina mcs (i think carmen is definitely a lesbian but it's never confirmed), full cast of Latin American characters, f/f romance
Profile Image for Mila.
770 reviews65 followers
February 4, 2020
The digital arc of this book was kindly provided by the publisher via Edelweiss+ website in exchange for an honest review.

3,5 stars

I really wish I liked this book more but for a story about resistance and standing up to the evil of the world, it was quite boring actually. The romance between Dani and Carmen is what really moved the plot and got me excited about the whole book. I also liked the writing and both Carmen's and Dani's character development. I still wish this novel expanded more on the world and followed the "show, don't tell" narrative more often than it did.
Profile Image for Saiesha.
115 reviews2 followers
February 8, 2023
Did this meet my expectations? not entirely. But, what a great read regardless. All the yearning saved this one.

Full review to come
Profile Image for Diana.
1,737 reviews222 followers
March 16, 2020
UPDATE: and having loved the first one so much, being seduced by Carmen and their love story I decided to give it another go. I am at 83% now and... I.just.can't. Really. I mean I don't know, there's lots of things going on here that more than a leap of faith to belive the makes you go bunge jumping from a helicopter.
So I DNF again at 84%. Bummer, I did love the first one so much!!!

UPDATE: I tried it again, got to 72% of the book. I just can't.
The situations work very conveniently for Carmen and Dani to extrincate themselves every time, it's like "how is it happening? How do people know where they are, how they get help every time, how they convince everyone on LaVoz, how..." Lots of hows. also, it feels kinda "chunky" to me, in the way that the story moves forward instead of seamlessly in pushes/bursts. Like "this happens, now we would need this to happen" and it does, without further ado

DNF'ed at page 170ish.

What happened here? I LOVED the first book. The characters were fully alive, the air sizzled between them, the plot was amazing and well thought, Carmen was my favorite, and the second book was going to be from her POW! WOW!

And then... this boring book. With Carmen detailing everything she does/thinks/feels and being so plain it hurts. The plot is one sided, following La Voz and their actions that make no sense, and Carmen telling again all she thinks/feels/does/believes in in a boring story that is not slow moving as much as nothing really happening. In 170ish pages all that has been told is: LaVoz isn't working as always, there is a new guy that seems to control everything, Carmen escapes from where they have taken her and goes after Dani.
That's all. Peepered with how Carmen feels/thinks/believes/does.

And lots of thoughts about walls between people, kindness between strangers, rich vrs poor. It's like the author wanted to talk about the wrongs of the world so much she lost sight of the plot/story.

A pity, I never expected I would dump this one as much as I've loved the first.
Profile Image for Paradise Lost.
101 reviews14 followers
February 28, 2020
3.5 stars

I really really wanted to love this as much as the first book. Especially because the world was set up so beautifully in the first one, and I couldn't wait to see how it's then established further.

See this is where in at a loss - the pacing is just as strong (I read it in a single setting), and technically, i can't even find anything wrong with it, except that the story just went in a direction I wasn't expecting.

The first one ended on a cliffhanger, and I was really anticipating how the repercussions of that would play out. I was also super excited to be getting Carmen's POV

We do eventually find out, but this book spends its majority focusing on the other side of this world. And while there's nothing wrong with that, I sort of felt a bit cheated. That, and I wish the main characters had more scenes together to truly see the development of their relationship. Also, the ending was a bit rushed and we didn't really get to see any sort of culmination.

But I really do enjoy the author's writing style, I loved the characters, I loved her portrayal of them and the world. I just wish it was more expanded, so that we could have really sunk our teeth into it.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,061 reviews129 followers
February 13, 2020
"We will give them darkness! We will give them fear! We will be everywhere and nowhere. We will be devastating."

I've recently read my review of We Set the Dark on Fire after I finished reading this book and I had the same reaction for both books. My mind was blown wide open. The heart and the soul that is displayed between these pages made loving these two books easy. This was just as amazing as the first book and I am enamored with it. These books will not disappoint you and the Dani & Carmen relationship is everything you ever dreamed it could be!

My fingers are crossed that this isn't the end for Dani and Carmen.

Profile Image for Iris.
549 reviews252 followers
Want to read
June 21, 2019

why is it not february 2020 now? i need it to be february 2020 now.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews112 followers
April 17, 2020
5 stars

I've been putting off writing this review ever since I finished this book because I truly do not know where to start with it.

I don't usually call books perfect but... Everything about this book was perfect. It was one of the best conclusions to a series that I think I've ever read. It was executed flawlessly. This review is just going to be me gushing about how much I love this book.

I had a bit of a hard time getting into the first book in this series, We Set the Dark on Fire, but with We Unleash the Merciless Storm, I was pulled in by page ten and I could not stop reading. I absolutely loved being in Carmen's head and seeing from her POV and I would, in fact, die for Carmen Santos, but I don't feel like that's news.

Carmen goes through so much development in this book. She realizes her own self-worth and she realizes that she's done being pushed around by other people for the idea of a resistance that doesn't feel like what she signed up for. Through Carmen's character development, Mejia explores the idea of different kinds of resistance and that you don't have to always be in the front lines in order to resist and fight back against an oppressive government. She also realizes that she can love and care about more than just the resistance and that wouldn't make her any less of a fighter. I just,, I love the development that she goes through so much??? She was such a good choice for narrating this story and I adored the time I got to spend with her.

Carmen and Dani's relationship also goes through a Lot in this book. A large part of it is them communicating and reassuring each other and being there for each other and I: love them so much!!! Both of them, but especially Carmen, are scared of opening up and letting themselves care about something else because that means there are more ways they could be hurt. Also, their relationship is in no way perfect and they clash and they have fights but guess what!! They also talk about it and work through their problems and they support each other and it makes me so happy. This relationship is truly one of my favorites that I've read in fiction and the fact that it's sapphic makes it even better.

I also absolutely adored the side characters in this book as well and I thought they were really well-developed and their motivations were really well hashed out. This also includes the "villains" in the book. While I did think the reveal was a bit predictable, I honestly think that was the point?? Or that's how I read it, anyway. But again, their motivations were always clear and they made sense and I really loved reading about them, even if I didn't always like the characters themselves.

I am also amazed at the amount of themes that Mejia managed to cover in a relatively short amount of time. Some of these were picking up the threads that she had left in book one and others were making completely new points, but I loved reading about all of them, nevertheless. She discusses institutionalized oppression, corruption within politics and within organizations, the idea of everyday resistance, and so much more all within the span of less than 400 pages and she manages to give each of those topics the time and attention they deserve.

The plot of this story also absolutely hit all the marks for me. Mejia was not pulling any punches, be they emotional ones or literal punches. I could be laughing one second and crying the next. It managed to keep me on the edge of my seat for the majority of the reading experience. It was gut-wrenching in the best possible way. Chapters 25 & 27 were both absolutely incredible and I know I'm going to come back to them time and time again. I also absolutely loved the ending of this book and I could not be more satisfied.

At its core, this is a book about resistance, and it's a book about existing as yourself. It's a book about believing in causes and ideas, but it's also a book about believing in people. It's a book about trusting and relying on other people. It's a love story, but at the same time, it's so much more. I cannot recommend this series enough.
Profile Image for Maëlys.
284 reviews274 followers
June 20, 2020
✨ 2 / 5 ✨

To be completely honest, I don’t think I would’ve finished this book if it wasn’t for the gay angst.

I don’t even know where to start with the plot. It was plain boring, things happened that didn’t necessarily make sense or had any tangible effect on the plot, and a lot of the conflict felt repetitive. Some “plot twists” were presented as shocking when they were obvious from a mile away and really made me question the intelligence of all of these characters but especially Carmen who is supposed to be the best La Voz spy in generations. The ending was also so disappointing, once again certain things did not make a whole lot of sense and it just did not feel satisfying at all.

I think one of the major points that sank the book for me was everything that had to do with La Voz. For one, the leader who was supposed to be legendary and charismatic just ended up being pretty weak and swayed so easily for no reason except that it kept the plot moving forward. I just don’t understand how a lot of things that went down with him were supposed to have worked out in any way shape or form. The power dynamics in the organisation were also so very blurry and nonsensical and it was so easy for someone else to take the leadership with no questioning from anyone.

The part I did really enjoy was the take on Carmen’s struggle between trying to decide whether to stay faithful to the cause or to her love. That was also very much holding my attention because Carmen can’t be sure whether or not she can actually trust Dani and I loved that tension. At the end of the day it was also interesting how it came back to her believing in the cause but not trusting the leadership.

Honestly I enjoyed every second of Carmen agonising and pining after Dani and all their moments together but unfortunately that’s not enough to carry a whole book by itself. It felt like a huge letdown from the first book and contained none of its charm in my opinion.

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Profile Image for Izzie.
584 reviews111 followers
March 2, 2020
(Thank you to my Mum for typing this for me).
Thank you to Harper360 for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This review is spoiler free if you have read the first book.
This book picks up almost instantly after the end of the first book, We Set The Dark on Fire. Only this time we are following Carmen's perspective instead of Dani's. We follow Carmen as she returns to her home of La Voz to face the consequences of her actions. But what she finds is that the resistance group she has given her life to has changed, and not for the better. So Carmen sets off on a quest in an effort to right the wrongs La Voz has made.
What I liked:
- The characters. While I enjoyed Dani's perspective I the first book, I was really excited that this book was going to be written from Carmen's POV. She always seemed like a more interesting character and I found her perspective both compelling and intriguing. I loved learning about her history within La Voz and all the relationships she had made there. Due to her past I think she had a more interesting view of the world and how she wanted to change it. I, of course, still enjoyed Dani as a character although she wasn't in the first half of the book. I think it also had a great group of supporting characters, especially Alex, Sota and Jasmin.
- The plot. I was a bit concerned for the first 70ish pages as the book got off to a fairly slow, repetitive start. However, after that, the book was paced extremely well and I wasn't bored at any point. I think the risks and choices Carmen made had a clear motive and made for some great action. I'm not sure how she survived most of it but it was certainly exciting. The climax was excellent and I was on the edge of my seat for the last 100 pages and I was left extremely satisfied by the books conclusion. The ending may have been slightly open-ended for some people, but it made sense to me and I think it finished at the right point.
- The themes. There are a number of themes explored in this story, all executed extremely well.
1. Resistance. This was my favourite theme in this novel. I really liked the emphasis on a resistance being about a set of beliefs rather than a leader. Carmen really struggled with the resistance being led by someone she didn't believe in and had to learn, throughout the book, that the resistance was bigger than any one person. I think it was a very timely commentary during a period where resistance is becoming a more common issue.
2. Love. This includes all different kinds of love: romantic, platonic, familial, belief. This also intertwined with the theme of resistance as Carmen had to learn that love wasn't a weakness that made you a target , but a strength that gave you drive and power. The romantic love Carmen had for Dani pushed her to take matters into her own hands. The platonic love she had for Sota reminded her that there was still good left in the world and her familial love with Alex reminded her that there was something left to save of La Voz.
3. Female empowerment. This truly is a story of women taking on oppression and relying on each other to give them the strength to do so. It truly felt like a love letter to feminism and all that can be accomplished by strong and intelligent women.
What I didn't like:
- Repetition. I did feel that some of Carmen's thoughts and feelings were mentioned too many times. This weighed down the book at points and irritated me as there was too much emphasis on it.
Overall this was a successful exploration of the different ways people can change the world and I loved everything the author had to say in this book. I fell in love with the characters and their cause and I thoroughly enjoyed the read. I will definitely be picking up anything Tehlor Kay Mejia writes in the future.
Profile Image for Lata.
3,589 reviews191 followers
June 4, 2020
This book picks up right from the end of book one, and we follow Carmen this time, and get to know her much better. This is not the same young woman we met in book one, the beautifully attired and soft spoken segunda. We get a better picture of La Vos' leadership, aims, and readiness to deal with armed conflicts with the brutal government.
In Carmen, Mejia gives us a portrayal of a young woman who is considerably more violent, determined, intelligent, and analytical than what she showed of herself in book one. It's an interesting choice to show us this young woman as she really is, to make Carmen much more hard-edged, which is logical considering her upbringing and training in La Vos.
At the same time, there's some really lovely, sensitive work by the author in the scenes where Dani and Carmen reunite and must reconsider much of what they each thought of each other, in order to figure out what they mean to one other. I loved the way the author had the young women really wrestle with their feelings and assumptions.
I have no idea if the author intends to return to this world, and I would love that as there was much I would still like to know, but I really loved how how Mejia wrapped up this story.
Profile Image for Lauren  (TheBookishTwins) .
455 reviews204 followers
January 27, 2020
I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you kindly to Katherine Tegan Books for my review copy.

may contain spoilers for We Set the Dark on Fire

carmen is one of La Voz’s best soldier’s, entirely devoted to the cause. She was taken in as a child and trained to be a cunning spy, then sent undercover into the Medio School for Girls. After her identity is exposed, she returns to the only home she ever knew – La Voz. But she finds that the home that she once knew, and the leader she once admired, is not exactly as she left it; the cause she loves is taking a turn into dangerous territory, leaving behind values it used to hold dear. When Dani’s life is threatened, Carmen must make a choice between the girl she loves, and the cause she’s devoted her entire life to.

After a three-month-long reading slump, I have finished my first 2020 read. And oh my, it was an exceptional one.

We Unleash the Merciless Storm is told from Carmens POV’s, and we pick up immediately after that cliffhanger from book one and get to experience things from Carmen’s perspective, which I really loved. She is such an amazingly complex character; split between her devotion to the cause and her love for Dani, and this inner conflict leads to some serious character development.

“You’re a fraud, and a traitor, and a thief, said a cruel voice in her head. The only you she could ever love was the lie…”

As usual, the romance was e x c e p t i o n a l. As we’ve veered from enemies-to-lovers, as with book one, we’re now firmly in the head-over-heels, utterly in love, and entirely devoted stage. I’m so happy that there was very little conflict in their relationship, that there was mutual respect and trust, and that they generally get a HEA — more conflict free romance PLEASE. Dani and Carmen are probably one of my favourite couples in YA right now.

“…as she called out for a weapon, steeling herself, she knew: this was no longer her home. Her home was a thousand miles away, beating in the body of a girl she might never see again.”

I also really enjoyed the insight we got into La Voz as an organisation and resistance, and how leaders shape a movement. But also how leaders can forsake us. I loved how it explored that the cause was more than La Voz — it was about a chance to live, not just to survive. And it very much challenged the idea that love makes us weaker — it makes us stronger, and it gives us something to fight for.

Though, for now, it seems we’ve come to an end, I would (very much) love to experience even more of Carmen and Dani’s story.

WE UNLEASH THE MERCILESS STORM is a powerful story of resilience, revolution, and the strength of love. If you’re looking for sapphic fiction with Latinx leads, this duology is a must.
Profile Image for Katie.
361 reviews68 followers
May 16, 2021
What a sharp drop from the first book.

I feel like this series would have been better as one longer standalone than a duology. All the tension from the first book, which mostly stemmed from Dani and Carmen's relationship, was GONE because they didn't reunite until the 50% mark! And even after that, it just somehow felt like there were absolutely no stakes. I don't know exactly how, since by all accounts it should have been a nail-biter, but I didn't feel anything. It was like I was watching the story unfold from the very top balcony of a theater. With a pole in the way.

I think the writing itself was just as lovely as ever. Tehlor Kay Mejia certainly has a way with words and can make everything flow nicely. But when you look at the story, and particularly the pacing, underneath those words, you may end up disappointed.
Profile Image for kaz auditore.
56 reviews22 followers
July 28, 2020
this one was better in my opinion, higher stakes, gayer, and how it sends the message that love is a revolution on its own in those circumstances too? carmen had her own idea of how revolution is and it was so much more inspiring than the usual one.
carmen and dani’s relationship was more intense and powerful both of them stayed independent and learn to accept the “darker” part of the other for carmen and for once they were unapologetic about their love. we stan
also i feel like it talks about immigrants in a way its the same situation? but its not my place to tell dkks and it was cool to see a latino universe it’s not in every book
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