Buy This Book
Other books by Tehlor Kay Mejia
Other books you may enjoy
“This was no longer her home. Her home was a million miles away, beating in the body of a girl she might never see again,” Carmen. –We Unleash the Merciless Storm
We Unleash the Merciless Storm
We Set the Dark on Fire #2
by Tehlor Kay Mejia
AR Test, LGBTQ, Strong Female Character
We Unleash the Merciless Storm is the second book to take place in Medio, a world ruled by a wealthy inner city and divided by walls. In Medio, wealthy men take two wives—a Primera and a Segunda—who have trained their entire lives to fill these positions. Meanwhile, rebellion brews in the outer lands, and the rebel faction, La Voz, plans to strike on the capital. In We Set the Dark on Fire, Dani Vargas becomes a Primera to the powerful and dangerous Mateo. Dani becomes involved in a world of espionage and subterfuge while falling in love with Mateo’s Segunda, Carmen. We Unleash the Merciless Storm picks up right where We Set the Dark on Fire left off, following the aftermath of the car explosion that ended the first book.
Half of the story is told from Carmen’s perspective. When she returns to the headquarters of La Voz, Carmen discovers that the organization’s leadership is on thin ice, with distrust and skepticism everywhere. After having her loyalties questioned in light of her relationship with Dani, Carmen leaves the La Voz camp and steals back into Medio’s central city to find Dani. After a perilous journey, Carmen and Dani are reunited and must go on the run to escape the government’s police. What follows is a climactic battle as Dani and Carmen fight to stay together while turbulent change spreads across Medio.
Readers who enjoyed We Set the Dark on Fire will enjoy this second installment, which concludes the story of Dani and Carmen’s relationship. Their passionate love is the heart of this story, and readers will be rooting for this couple as they overcome adversity.
The political undertones of this book are similar to those of the first installment, as the characters rail against oppression and a corrupt government. A wall divides Medio, and the rebels must sneak past border patrol agents and hide from the police.
Readers will enjoy seeing Carmen’s past explored in more detail. Carmen, who has been raised by La Voz and taught to put the cause first, often feels conflicted about her loyalty to Dani, which is just as strong as the loyalty she feels to the rebellion. She also feels conflicted about the number of violent acts she has committed as a La Voz agent and wonders what Dani will think of her. The moral conflict over violence forms a large part of the story. La Voz’s leader says, “The goal of true resistance is not violence. It’s not about blood or death. The goal of true resistance is peace. Abundance. Violence is only a means to an end.” Throughout the story, La Voz agents strive to stay true to their morals and find that it is often difficult.
We Unleash the Merciless Storm is not quite as intriguing as the first book and includes less of the captivating world-building and detail that marked its predecessor. Still, the plot moves quickly and readers will be eager to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. Part apocalyptic love story and part espionage spy thriller, this sequel will satisfy fans of the first book.
- Carmen remembers Dani looking at her like she’d “never kissed her dizzy.”
- Someone calls Carmen a “whore,” and she thinks, “Like being a whore wasn’t condoned by [the government]. Like girls weren’t sold to the highest bidder to warm the beds of the men who would never deserve them.”
- Carmen and Dani kiss and “Carmen could taste the truth on Dani’s tongue. There was no stopping now; there were only hands and lips and hair and hips and the feeling of drowning and coming up for air all at once.”
- Dani and Carmen share a bed. “[T]heir noses were brushing each other, and Dani’s hands rose up to bury themselves in Carmen’s hair, and there was no pain in the world, no grief, no sadness, there was only the charged space between their lips, and every day Carmen had wanted this stretching out behind them.”
- When Carmen and Dani kiss, “their lips met like a lightning strike, thunder reverberating through their bodies as they pressed frantically into each other, hands tugging at clothing and hair, mouths open in agony and relief as the friction built to a fever pitch between them.”
- Dani and Carmen have sex, but the act is not described in detail. Afterward, “Carmen felt she was being left somehow cleaner than she had been found. Purer. How could something that was said to be so wrong do all of that? How could something the gods supposedly denied feel like a baptism? How could it feel like faith?”
- Dani hears gunshots as La Voz has a shootout with “border patrol agents who’d followed them from the wall [and] entered the camp, guns blazing.”
- Carmen must kill a captured border patrol agent to prove her loyalty to La Voz. She “reached forward without hesitation and opened the officer’s throat. He slumped to the ground, his blood spreading slowly at their feet.”
- Dani’s weapon of choice is throwing knives that are dipped in various poisons. The poisons have the power to kill a person instantly, send them to sleep or send them into madness.
- Dani throws a knife at the president, and watches “the president of Medio reach for his throat, his eyes uncomprehending, and pull out the blade.” The wound itself is not fatal, but “the poison was already spreading through his veins.”
- During the final battle, Dani hits a soldier with a poisoned knife that causes madness, and he “was roaring, his rifle in his hands, spraying bullets in every direction.”
- A man is shot, and “the bullet ripped through [his] chest, sending him to the ground, blood splattering and pooling and absolutely everywhere.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- At a dignitary function, Carmen sees the President of Medio “as he took another goblet of wine and downed it in one gulp before grabbing another.”
- The president is clearly drunk, and later he stands in the entrance to a grove, “his fly comically open, swaying on the spot.” Carmen thinks he is a “drunken, cowardly fool.”
- Profanity is used very rarely. Profanity includes bitch, damn, and hell.
- Someone tells Carmen, “Not only are you a traitorous bitch, but you’re a whore, too.”
- The beginning of the book contains a myth from Medio, which tells the story of the Salt God and the Sun God. The Salt God calls upon a man and a girl, and “the spirits within them came forth, meeting the god’s spirit of pure light as at last his human form was abandoned forever.” At the end, the man and the girl say they will be the voice of the people. This myth is said to be the origin of the rebel organization La Voz. (“La Voz” is Spanish for “the voice.”)
- Carmen looks at the wall that separates Medio, which some people believe was built by gods. She thinks, “She didn’t believe gods had built the wall. She believed men had made other men do it.”
- Carmen looks at statues of deities, which include “the goddess of secrets and the god of the harvest” and “the four capricious children of the god of fermentation and fertility, who were said to be present at every feast or festival ever held.”
- Carmen says, “The gods were only stories told by people in power to make oppression seem glorious, fated. Carving their likenesses is the very thing keeping the people broken and suffering? Cut off from the resources that could save them? It was nothing more than a cruel joke.”
- Carmen tells Dani, “There isn’t a god or a person living who could keep me from coming back to you.”
- A miracle is described as “an act of a god, when [the people] had too long believed all their gods had abandoned them.”
- Carmen prays “to the gods Dani believed in, the ones Carmen never could.”
by Caroline Galdi