Series: Fire & Flood #1
Author: Victoria Scott
Publication Date: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
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?
Well, there's no other way than to just tell it like it is. Honestly, I was a little leery of this novel because I did not enjoy the Dante Walker series. I know, shoot me now, but I just couldn't connect to any of the characters. But HELLO Fire & Flood! I'm not sure what sub-genre this young adult book falls into, because it's really not dystopian, but that's the closest way to describe it, I think.
I'm not going to give any big spoilers, so describing exactly why this race takes place will be impossible, because there's much more to it than a race for a cure. One hundred and seventy-two contestants begin the race, which will take them through four ecosystems, and the person who wins the entire race wins a cure for someone in their family who is chronically ill. For Tella, it's her brother.
I admired Tella. She walks into her room and finds a tiny, electronic ear piece laying on her bed. When she pops it in her ear, instructions flood her brain and she thinks her brother is trying to pull a prank, so she confronts him and her parents, who go a tad bit insane when they see the device. Her dad tries to burn it, but Tella manages to save it, and finishes listening to the instructions, which she follows to save her brother.
Jenny, a friend of mine at Book Sojourner (this link goes to her Fire & Flood review, check it out), said she didn't really like Tella at first, and that maybe it was because she was so different from the character. I have known Jenny for a couple of years now, and I laughed as I was reading the book, because Tella reminded me so much of Jenny. Either would go above and beyond for their family, regardless of the consequences. Anyone who doesn't follow Jenny at Book Sojourner should go follow her now. She has so many great posts.
Anyway, Tella makes it to the starting line with everything she's allowed, and nothing she brought. Victoria inserted so many interesting and unique concepts into the story, it kept me guessing what would happen next. I loved the Pandoras. Foxes, lions, rams, and so many other critters that had the powers of superheroes. Some could burrow in the sand and shoot spurs out into various parts of intruders bodies, others could breathe fire though they weren't dragons, and another could imitate all others. The single thing the pandoras had in common, is they existed to protect their competitor. Tella realized this from the beginning and showed her companion compassion and friendship. She won other pandoras loyalties by showing them the same kindness.
As the competitors make their way across a rain forest, then a desert, the obstacles and challenges became greater and riskier. Friends and enemies are picked off with increasing speed and ease. However, after each ecosystem, the winner scores anything from money to secure their loved ones the best medical care, to a small dose of the "cure" to extend the life of their family member a few years longer. They are also given the option of going home or continuing on for the ultimate reward. Dropping out of the Brimstone Bleed becomes a forethought in many people's minds, but their loyalty to their family keeps them going.
One of Tella's cohorts, and possibly a potential boyfriend, knows more about the Brimstone Bleed than the others. Guy is willing to share bits of the truth with Tella, and perhaps there is so much more to the story than a race for a cure. I am excited to read Salt and Stone. Why so long, Victoria? Why?
I recommend Fire & Flood to those who enjoy dystopian type books. This is a YA book but does contain some violence.