Carmen Santos is one of the most skilled operatives in the resistance, but after falling in love with a girl named Dani she must choose between loyalty to her leaders and moving down the path of her own form of resistance. This is an amazing conclusion to Tehlor Kay Mejia's duology and improves upon the first book.
Queer, young adult, dystopian
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?
We Unleash the Merciless Storm is the sequel to We Set the Dark on Fire, and while I greatly enjoyed the first book, this book surpassed it. The book is told from Carmen's POV rather than Dani's, and it was nice to see her motivations and thoughts after her being so mysterious in the preceding book. While Dani is a sweet and likeable character, Carmen was more interesting to read about, and her relationship to La Voz was something I'd been wanting to know about.
The characters of Alex and Jasmine were explored in greater detail than the first book, and we finally get to learn about their connections to Carmen. The sisterly relationship between Alex and Carmen was very good to read about. Mejia is excellent at writing intercharacter relationships, which brings me to the next thing I loved about this book.
The romance was excellently written. Too often, characters in YA aren't given chemistry in a romance, but Dani and Carmen have lots of it. Their interactions are incredibly sweet, and you can easily feel passionate about their relationship. Another bonus is that Carmen's ex-girlfriend Jasmine is a large part of the story but doesn't create relationship drama between Dani and Carmen. There is no love triangle, and Carmen and Jasmine manage to have a respectful relationship with each other despite being exes.
This book gave me real anxiety in certain moments because I was so engrossed in the characters. I truly cared what happened to them and was emotionally invested. The antagonist Mateo was one of the most despicable villains I've read in a while. I was felt actual anger toward him and was extremely satisfied in seeing the protagonists bring him down.
However, rather than just having a strictly good vs. evil battle, Mejia made the resistance flawed as well. There's discourse and unrest among La Voz, and they often resort to unsavory tactics in their fight against the oppressive regime. This added nuance to the story, and its exploration of different modes of resistance was quite timely. Carmen notes that the simple help she receives from strangers is its own form of rebellion, and this part was quite poignant.
The series is a duology, and while I would be happy to spend more time with these characters it ended quite nicely, tying up the major loose ends.
There really isn't much negative I have to say about this book. Some of the writing and descriptions were repetitive, but not to the extent where they were annoying. I don't have any major complaints.
This book was an amazing read. It's exciting and tense, with an excellently written sapphic romance and interesting leads. It gave me a strong emotional attachment to the characters and made me truly care what happened to them. I will be looking forward to other books by this author.