We Unleash the Merciless Storm by Tehlor Kay Mejia is the sequel I’ve been waiting for since finishing the first book in this duology (We Set the Dark on Fire).
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, taken in when she was an orphaned child and trained to be a cunning spy. She spent years undercover at the Medio School for Girls, 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?
This book picks up right where WSTDOF leaves off, but the story is now told from Carmen’s point of view. I was glad to see the story through Carmen’s eyes, especially after the cliffhanger at the end of WSTDOF. The organization she returns to has changed, and so has she. La Voz is no longer the safe, welcoming home that she remembers, and the strong leader she once knew seems to be influenced by some new guy. New guy is a JERK by the way!
Carmen is conflicted throughout much of the book. On one hand, she’s devoted her life to the cause she fully believes in, and proven herself loyal and skilled, at least until her cover was blown and she’s forced to lie low. On the other hand, she’s got her feelings for Dani, a desire to save her life, and the need to figure out what is happening within La Voz, and to Dani, who seems to have gone off the grid. As Carmen tries to acclimate to her old life, she realizes how deeply loving Dani has changed her, and wonders if she can (and wants to) go back to the way she used to be.
“She was a soldier. A survivor. There was no room to be anything else. Not if she wanted to live.”
“Carmen was home, but loving Dani had altered her past to the point of no return.”
While reading, there was such a sense of being trapped in a stifling and dangerous situation that can’t improve without drastic measures (read: revolution). Even the society on the outer island is different:
“Carmen had been shocked, arriving at the capital, when she found duties divided by gender. Men who didn’t cook or clean, women who had never held a weapon. In La Voz, in the outer island in general, there weren’t enough hands to be fussy about whose did what.”
Being gay in the outer island doesn’t carry the stigma that it does in Medio, and I have been on team Carmen/Dani since the beginning. The romance is hot but not overdone, and it’s a prime example of a well-done slow burn.
Rather than the snippets from the Medio handbook for girls, each chapter is headed with a quote from La Voz’s membership pledge. The society of Medio is founded on oppression and inequality, and any society like this will eventually become a breeding ground for revolution. And when it comes … it’s absolutely glorious! The story itself captivated me immediately, and held my attention straight until every last loose end was wrapped up into a beautiful little bow.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn't an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 9
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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