Review: We Unleash the Merciless Storm

Title: We Unleash the Merciless Storm (We Set the Dark on Fire #2)
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Dystopia/Post-Apocalyptic, LGBTQIA
Pages: 388
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Review Copy: Purchased
Availability: Available now

Summary: 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?

Review: I was excited to return to the world of Medio after reading Tehlor Kay Mejia’s debut, WE SET THE DARK ON FIRE. This time around, we get to see the world from Carmen’s point-of-view, and what a world it is. Carmen’s return to La Voz took us deeper into the heart of the resistance, and all was not well there.

The driving force in WE UNLEASH THE MERCILESS STORM is Carmen’s love for Dani, and the decisions she makes when that love is potentially at odds with the resistance she’s dedicated her life to. This tests the depths of her conviction on both sides, and it raises the stakes for their romance. I truly enjoyed seeing Carmen and Dani’s relationship take shape after Carmen’s true identity was revealed. It was immensely satisfying to see their relationship unfold once they finally start interacting again.

Carmen’s point-of-view was a great way to add depth to Medio as Carmen has been working toward dismantling the power structure since her childhood. We were able to get a better glimpse of the bigger picture from Carmen than we had from Dani, and the time Carmen spent with La Voz made the resistance seem wider reaching than it had during FIRE. It was also fun seeing familiar characters through her eyes rather than Dani, especially Sota.

That said, the plot for STORM feels much thinner and less complex in comparison to FIRE. Carmen quickly realizes that something is wrong with La Voz, correctly identifies who the problem is, and then her suspicions are easily proven correct by the end of the book. I kept waiting for there to be some kind of significant twist or for additional layers to be revealed, but nothing terribly interesting happened with La Voz in the end. I had really enjoyed the complexity of the plot in FIRE and thus felt disappointed in STORM’s comparative simplicity.

Recommendation: Get it soon. While I was hoping for a more complicated plot, WE UNLEASH THE MERCILESS STORM is a worthy ending to this duology. Carmen’s love for Dani is front and center in this book, and if you enjoyed that in the previous book, you’ll love their relationship through Carmen’s eyes. After this duology, I am very much looking forward to Mejia’s next YA book, which is a collaboration with Anna-Marie McLemore (MISS METEOR).