I received an e-book ARC of this novel via NetGalley and Scholastic Press in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate NetGalley and Scholastic for giving me the opportunity to review this book. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by outside persuasions, incentives or ideas.
Tella is in the middle of Montana. Home-schooled with no electronics and living in an extremely small town, Tella is bored as hell. Her parents decided to move away (taking her life of friends and entertainment with them) because her brother got sick. Doctor’s can’t determine what’s wrong, so they’ve been dealing with it best they can. Then a small blue present appears on Tella’s bed one day and everything changes. The box contains an electronic message on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed race. The prize? A cure for her brother. So Tella sets out to become a part of the race. Help from a stranger gets her in into the race when he helps her grab an “egg” as the first assignment. This “egg” becomes her assigned Pandora Companion that will help each contender through the 4 phase epic race across jungle, dessert, ocean and mountain. After trailing her “helper” and then joining a group of other contenders, Tella fights to survive and make it through each leg of the race. She’s not the only one fighting for the cure an there can only be one winner. Will she she make it to the end?
A lot of people have been describing this book as a cross between The Hunger Games and the Amazon Race. I can see that, but I think that description limits the story. I think there’s more too it than that combination. Plus where I didn’t really like The Hungers Games (yes I know go ahead and yell at me, but I just didn’t. You can read all about that here), I really enjoyed this story. I think because this story was more believable to me. Collins didn’t set up the Dystopian world well enough for me to believe that what became of America would actually allow kids to hunt other kids (especially with how rich and egotistical the first & second districts seemed). However, Victoria Scott set up the believably of the race for me. There were no rules except to make it to base camp during each phase of the race. No one had to kill another contender–that was a personal choice. Plus all the contenders were different ages and not just kids or young people. I also got a conspiracy/blackmail feel from the history behind the race and those themes I can believe in especially with the sci-fi twist coming from the Pandora Companions.
Believablity aside, this story had great pacing and lots of action. I was drawn in and couldn’t stop reading. I wanted to see who’d make it, who’d turn against who, and what the Pandora Companions could do. I think the companions (which took on an animal form) were the best addition to this novel. Without their appearance in the novel, I don’t think this story would be half as good as I thought it was. Plus, Tella’s companion was just adorable!
Tella as a character wasn’t your usual survival heroin. She wasn’t a Katniss, but that’s why I like this story. Tella was actually a normal girl. She didn’t have fighter or survival skills. She complained about not looking good and being sacred and even double questioned her participation. However, she genuinely loved her brother and that was at the forefront of her actions. So maybe she wouldn’t have survived without help or without her Pandora Companion, but I like that anyone could survive this race. She also had a kind temperament and deep love for animals which I connected to. She was wanted to win, but she wasn’t overly competitive.
The secondary characters had some stereotypes, but it wasn’t the annoying type placed characters. They had some depth to them to and some surprising qualities I didn’t see coming. They also helped keep the plot moving and interesting. I began to root for them all, except well…the “bad guy” one. That antagonist I wanted to punch really hard.
On a happier note, let’s talk Tell’a love interest. Guy was the typical silent and strong type. You could tell right away that he’d be her love interest, but their relationship developed somewhat slowly. It was an unwanted friendship turned to a romance interest. I enjoyed his character and he definitely had some swoon qualities. He was her white knight for most of the book, but at the end Tella had grown as a character. She had gained strength that can only come from trying to survive (cue Arrow’s storyline! …well sort of 🙂 ). Plus Guy has his own agenda. For most of the book I kept thinking well this going to be a Hunger Games ending where they both come out winners. Nope Scott threw me for a loop! There’s a bit more going on then just winning the cure. (And I’m shutting up now on that. No spoilers from me!)
What I loved most about the novel was Scott’s ability to keep up the suspense and continuing action. Being sucked in like that made me finish so fast. I can’t wait to read the next installment. The twist at the end makes me want to pick up book 2 that much more. Overall, I think Fire & Flood is definitely worth the read. If you’re Hunger Games fan, you might love this or you might hate this novel. It’s hard to say. Since I wasn’t overly attached to the Hunger Games series, I didn’t see any conflicting things with this novel. I loved the journey Scott to me on as a reader. I enjoyed biting my lip in anticipation of whether Tella was going to make or not. I was even starting to worry about the rest of her “circle.” Would the people she was traveling with make it too? The novel left me gulping down the pages and desperately seeking the answers and outcomes I wanted. I’m looking forward for the next book in the series!
My Final Grade
My Grade: A-
GoodReads’ Rating*: 4.02/5 stars (310 reviews)
The Blurb via GoodReads
A modern day thrill ride, where a teen girl and her animal companion must participate in a breathtaking race to save her brother’s life—and her own.
Tella Holloway is losing it. Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can’t determine what’s wrong, her parents decide to move to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying—and she’s helpless to change anything.
Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It’s an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: the Cure for her brother’s illness. But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there’s no guarantee that Tella (or any of them) will survive the race.
The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can’t trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?
What did you think about Fire & Flood? Is this hitting your TBR pile? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you thought!
*I usually do Amazon ratings, but because Amazon did not have any reviews or ratings for the book yet I chose to do GoodReads ratings.