Monday, March 3, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood


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?

Fire & Flood is a unique book. I didn't LOVE it, but I did enjoy it. I think this book is as close to resembling The Hunger Games as any other YA book out there. You have a protagonist, Tella Hollaway, willing to go through a brutal race/game to save her brother. You have a game that's largely based on, not just surviving, but surviving in dangerous terrains. It's not a replica of The Hunger Games, but I can see why the editing team behind that famous trilogy wanted to pick this series up. It's almost too similar to The Hunger Games.

There are elements, though, that make this book stand out--mainly the Pandoras. If you don't know what Pandoras are, they are genetically altered animals meant to help contestants during this race. For example, one contestant had a fire breathing animal. As an animal lover, I absolutely loved this aspect of the book.

As for why this book didn't "wow" me, I have to say it was Tella's abrasive character. There are moments when I could sympathize with her, and other moments where I just couldn't connect with her. I don't know why I felt this way toward Tella, but I appreciate that she has a lot of potential for character growth (and I look forward to seeing that happen). I also didn't like the romance. I wasn't captivated by Guy, and I didn't find myself convinced that they could "fall in love". While the romantic developments don't happen until toward the middle, it still managed to feel rushed and it didn't make sense.

Victoria Scott has a very unique writing style and sense of humor, which work in her favor. I also have to say that the pacing of this book was spot on. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next. The plot was interesting, and there was enough information to keep the questions floating in my head. Maybe too many questions. One question, in particular, was why does this race even exist? We do get some answers, but there's still enough uncertainty for me to want to pick up the second book. Also, Tella's character did show some moments of brilliance, and I can't deny that she's intriguing. She's very different from any other female protagonist I've read.

So yes, I had issues with Fire & Flood, but I thoroughly enjoyed the read and hope to continue this series.

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