I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
Published by Scholastic Press on February 25th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
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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?
Someone much crueller than me would describe this book as a Survivor Reality show meets YA. Giant race, one winner, only instead of a cash prize and not-so-eternal glory, the winner of the Brimstone Bleed gets a cure to save their dying relative. That’s the situation every contestant, including Tella our protagonist, is in.
With only their Pandoras to rely on, each contender has to run the game with no rules and make it to the finish line first to claim a prize. Fire & Flood covers the first two locations, half of the race, and follows Tella as she tries to survive the harsh conditions to save her brother. Clearly my first thought was to seriously consider whether I would do such a race for either of my brothers.
Should have let me play with your lego, asshole!
Honestly, I’m joking. Pretty sure I’d do this at least once for each of my brosephs, but maybe that’s because I think I could probably survive this whole experience a bit better than Tella who has exactly no survival skills. Tella, I love you, but you roll a leech off. Don’t pull it! Basically, the only thing stopping me from winning this race would be my appalling sense of direction.
Scott had completely won me over with The Collector, so I was pretty excited to read this. It is a massive departure in style, story and thematically which is brave of Scott as a writer to embrace. I have a lot of respect for authors who can branch out and try new things. This book mostly worked for me. I didn’t absolutely love it, but I quite liked it.
The positives are what Scott brought to the table in terms of characterisation. The book is very character driven when not drowning you in suspense and walking. The survivalist aspects of the novel are a major selling point if you’re into that sort of thing. But I would have liked to have seen more development in the romance. What did Guy like about Tella? What made them click other than throbbing hormones and the safety net he provides her? I couldn’t say. Not that I didn’t like Guy but that their relationship made little sense to me.
The Pandoras are a great addition to the novel, providing much of the moral quandary and entertainment for the reader. Scott has pulled all out to build up not just the cast, but their Pokemon sidekicks too, in order to enrich the novel. Downside is that the story just didn’t make much sense. The eventual explanation for the race was something of an anticlimax, leaving me scratching my head and wondering how this event has stayed so incognito. There’s a lot of questions and not nearly enough answers.
All up it was an enjoyable novel and I look forward to the sequel. Even if I could beat this book in a race.