Monday, February 24, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Book: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott
Released: February 25, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 320 (Kindle)
Rating: 3.5

**I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an open and honest review**

Fire & Flood

From 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?

So this book. It's part Hunger Games. Part Survivor. And part The Amazing Race. All things that I enjoy. While there are definitely some similarities to the above mentioned movie & TV shows, there are some twists that make this book unique. Did it redefine the genre? No, but what really would at this point? Did I enjoy this book? Yes, yes I did. Sadly, there was no Jeff Probst though.
Come on in, guys
While there are some qualities of The Hunger Games to this book, ie: you have to fight to the death to win the prize, that's pretty much where it ended, and even so it's not necessary to kill everyone in order to win. There are people of all ages participating in the Brimstone Bleed (which, by the way, is a totally awesome name. I dig the alliteration). They are all there to win The Cure to saved a loved one.

That's what this whole Brimstone Bleed is all about. The winner will received The Cure, which will save their loved one who is sick and dying back at home. But to win, they must compete in 4 different landscapes: the jungle, the desert, the ocean and the mountains. In this book we only see the jungle and the desert, and boy are they brutal. In the jungle it rains all the time. In the desert it's oppressively hot during the day, and freezing at night. In addition to the environment, there are other threats, namely the other competitors and mysterious jungle men. The goal of each round is to find the blue flags which will lead them to the base camp... and safety.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. The main character of our story is Tella. She's enters the Brimstone Bleed to save her older brother. Without knowing what she's getting herself in to, she leaves her home in Montana and drives to Lincoln, Nebraska. There she picks out an egg, which will be her Pandora. The Pandoras will help each Contender through their journey. I like the Pandoras, especially when you find out what they are, and what they can do. Tella's in particular is pretty awesome. 

In Lincoln is where Tella first encounters Guy. He then continues to make random appearances in the first half of the book, before staying for good. He's pretty rough around the edges and hard to figure out, that's for sure. Little by little information about him is given throughout the book. I liked the slow flow of information, it seemed more realistic that way.

Is it the clumpy way he walks? Or the grumpy way he talks?
There's a group of Contenders that Tella meets up with, and they each have their own story about why they are there. Some are revealed quickly, and some at the end. Each one serves a purpose in Tella's development as a person, and helps her to survive. While Harper comes off as prickly at first, I ended up rather liking her as a person. 

Then there's Titus, a/k/a the bad guy. He sucks and I don't like him. He's pretty much evil and reminded me of The Darkling from The Grisha Trilogy (except that The Darkling is not totally evil? Maybe?) in that he wanted Tella to join him for REASONS that I can't go into because SPOILERS sweetie.

I liked that there was so much action & adventure throughout the entire book. There's so twists and turns, and there were a few instances where it did manage to surprise me and keep me on my toes.

But there is one major thing that I most definitely did NOT like. There is some animal cruelty, which is one of my biggest book turn offs. I get that it was used as a plot device to show just how evil some of the Contenders are, but yeah, I was so not a fan. Even more so when it was a mandated act as part of the Brimstone Bleed. Not cool at all. 

But other than that, I really did enjoy this book. I'll definitely be reading the rest of the series. I'd recommend it to people who like survival stories, and who don't mind conflict, adventure, and people being dirty. :)

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