Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Release Date: February 25th, 2014
Series: Fire & Flood #1
Genres: Action & Adventure, Dystopia, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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?
I don’t remember ever feeling quite so conflicted about a book like I am with FIRE & FLOOD. The thing is, the bones of this book are absolutely fantastic: the plot has great potential and the animal companion concept is really fresh and unique. However, the skin and muscle of the book are not so great. The heroine is vain and at times frustrating, and some people will be put off by the clear Hunger Games resemblance.
What I liked:
-Pretty good pacing and action. I never felt bored and found myself coming back the story easily, wanting to see what would happen next.
-Pandoras. Each contender has to pick an egg at the beginning of the competition, the egg will hatch into a modified animal that will help them throughout the race. These were so cool. They all had particular abilities and their own personalities. Probably my favorite part of the book.
-Secondary Characters. Good supporting characters have always been a huge thing of mine, it makes a book have much more depth and this was no exception. Every character had a backstory and some of them even had a twist.
-Romance. It was cute, it was sweet, it didn’t overtake the rest of the book. However, Tella turned this too into a vanity thing on multiple occasions. I loved the tension between them.
What I didn’t like:
-Vain protagonist. Tella got on my nerves so much. She could often be thinking of how she could make herself look better in the competition, or wishing she was getting a massage or that her bag of survival necessities was also filled with lipstick. In a dystopia where you are constantly fighting for your life, one should have other priorities. Another thing-very few times are these priorities she entered the race for in the first place: to save her brother’s life. But of course lipstick is more important.
“I think about what to pack: clothes, food, water, the device…maybe some nail polish. Just because I’m entering a race doesn’t mean I don’t want to look magically delicious.”
“My heart stops. The guy looking down at me is very tall, or maybe he just seems so because I’m still on the ground.”
“I’m not cut out for this, I realize. I should be in my lavender-painted room, giving myself a milk and avocado facial, wrestling my hair into a messy but fashionable updo.”
“She’s my kind of girl-a fashion guru, if you will-and I feel underdressed and underkempt in comparison. I wonder where she found her shoes.”
“I pray that the orange pack I’m wearing holds Chanel makeup. And a brush. And a mirror.”
Okay, I’ve had my fun.
-Shoddy world building. The sad part is this could have been fleshed out to where it may have been an incredibly interesting dystopian, but almost no world building existed at all. What we do find out is information given to us at the very end of the novel. Basically, all these people are thrown into the competition and we have no idea why.
“And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place?”
Wow, that is a good question, synopsis. Too bad the book neither asked or addressed that question. I would have loved to have the answer to that.
Anyway. FIRE & FLOOD will grate on some reader’s nerves, but is still a pretty entertaining novel. Although it sounds like I hated it, the opposite is true: I actually really liked it. Maybe I just got used to Tella’s
narcissistic unique personality, but I would say to give this one a chance. I will be reading the sequel.
*This is an advance reader copy and quotes are to be checked against the finalized version.