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?
Title: We Unleash the Merciless Storm
Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia
Genre: YA Dystopian/Fantasy
[DISCLAIMER: I received this ARC free from the publisher, though this didn’t influence my below review. Please note, there may be changes between this edition and the finished copy.]
After reading and really enjoying the first in this series, We Set the Dark on Fire, I was really looking forward to reading this sequel (especially as a nice distraction from the world current affairs) and it really didn’t let me down! It wasn’t my favourite book ever, it had a few niggles I wasn’t sure about, but overall I really liked the characters, the world, and the storyline. What more can you ask?
Let’s start with the things I wasn’t as much a fan of, to get them out of the way – there isn’t much!
Romance wasn’t as deep as I would have liked:
After the build up in the first book, I thought maybe there would be more about building a deeper connection between Carmen and Dani, but they don’t seem to talk too much in this book either. At least, not about anything deep or opening up. I love romances where the person slowly starts to see the depths of another person, the things they like or don’t like, their history, and warms even more to them because of knowing more about them. It’s the slow realisation that you love another person.
I thought Dani and Carmen’s relationship seemed a little more focused on the physical side, with their strongest scenes being ones when they’re either entranced by the other or kissing them. Less so about falling for the personality inside the gorgeous exteriors.Though I still loved their connection, and their ride-or-die attitude for each other, this was just one puzzle piece I’d have liked added to an awesome F/F relationship.
Trying not to spoil the ending while talking directly about it is going to be hard… here we go!
I thought the major conflict, which is built up and up throughout both books, was resolved fairly quickly and with some things off-page that I would have really liked to see first hand.
There was no lack of drama and action, with double-crossing and battles and class-wars, but riiiiight at the end it just kind of… ended. With our point-of-view main character being temporarily away from the action for the most pivotal part!
It’s just a bit of a shame, it was written so well I really wanted to see more of it.
And now on to the good bits! (My favourite)
The first book was from Dani’s perspective: the cool and collected Primera learning about the major issues of her world and the rebellion beneath it. In this book we get to see Carmen’s perspective: the vibrant Segunda, hiding her own calculating persona and rough past.
I was so glad, I really wanted to see more of her mind and what she thought of Dani and it was a really good way to show us the other side to the world, the downtrodden part, from someone who has lived in it and worked alongside it for her whole life. It gave it a depth that it really needed, as opposed to if we were introduced to it all of a sudden and thrown into learning everything and a whole history in just one book.
I liked how it humanised the Vulture and his followers, giving them an almost familial connection to Carmen so I really cared about their cause and the work they were doing to even out the huge class divide and oppression.
The world itself:
Though I could always do with more worldbuilding and history (I’m such a nerd) I did like reading about the Islands’ history mixed with the folklore and how this has translated to a wall and half the people in riches and the other half in poverty. It’s an interesting cautionary tale about basing too many of your laws on a mythology and not being flexible to move with the times and care about all the people in the land.
The many gods still believed in by the outer islanders was a really nice touch, with the inner islanders only believing in the original two (Sun and Salt). When Carmen mentions small things like the God of Bones it really starts to bring the layers of the mythology to life.
I really enjoyed reading this book, though I would have liked a few changes, it’s a really well written F/F dystopian book when we can never have too many of them. I loved the main characters of both books, and their relationship, and just felt very at home reading this. I will definitely keep an eye out for anything else written by Tehlor Kay Mejia.