Title: Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1) by Victoria Scott
Release Date: February 25th 2014
Published by: Scholastic Press
Source: Publisher (Thanks Scholastic!)
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository
Time is slipping away....
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?
Tella's older brother Cody is dying. They said there's no cure, and now she finds herself living in the middle of nowhere with her family, bored out of her wits with nothing to do. That is, until that mysterious blue box appears on her bed, until she gets instructions from a mysterious voice. It says she's a participant in the Brimstone Bleed, where if she wins she can get the ultimate price: a Cure for any kind of sickness. Now Tella's braving the jungle, making alliances and trying to stay alive long enough to win. But the longer Tella stays in the game, the more Brimstone Bleed seems to be more than just a game.
Admittedly, what drew me in to this book was the premise: a race with a cure for whatever disease as a prize. But a lot of things in this book didn't go as well for me as I thought it would. One of the reasons is my inability to connect with the main character, Tella. My dislike for her was immediate. She's selfish, shallow and vain at the worst possible time. Consider this: your brother is dying and all you care about is that you live in a secluded house away from civilization, with no internet. And will you even think of bringing a nail polish when you're joining a game where only one person will win? Also, come on girl, you're supposed to be in a race. Do you really have the time to fix yourself and be concerned with how you look? Her character makes you wonder how she can even survive the Brimstone Bleed. Granted, she did exhibit a bit of growth throughout the story, stronger, more sensible and even a little bit smarter, and that added to my drive to enjoy the story a little more.
Fire & Flood however, had a good set of secondary characters that provided much support and injected a lot of interest to the story. They helped move the story forward with their diverse personalities. I liked how I kept guessing who is a friend and who can possibly be a foe, each one of their motivations and reasons for being in the Brimstone Bleed. I also liked the gradual romance build up between Guy and Tella. They weren't even friends to start with, Tella looking so pathetic and desperate while Guy was withdrawn and mysteriously prepared. Their interactions with each other led to a gradual shift in their personalities. I loved how despite of all the secrets they still withhold from each other, there's a somewhat complete, clear picture of themselves. I'm more certain of Tella and Guy's alliances than everyone else's. They're not the star-crossed lovers type as well. They're determined and they fight, which isn't to say that their moments together aren't swoon worthy, because they are.
Fire & Flood had its moments, but the hurdle for me to get over my initial dislike for Tella and the disconnect I had with her personality dramatically lessened my enjoyment of the reading experience. Granted, there was development in her character, but flashes of her old personality comes back at the most inconvenient of times, ruining the moment. But I loved everything else in the story. I loved the Pandoras and their abilities, their relationships with the Contenders and how they're not merely tools to use in order to win the race. I loved how friendships were formed, that despite being contenders in the same race, they can all work together. I even loved how the antagonist showed up because he really is bad, and amidst all that is happening, with all of them trying to survive, there's still one who'd be evil and hateful enough to want to outwit everyone else by doing gruesome things.
I can't say that I'm surprised with the way the first book ended, as certain parts of the story are predictable (Titus' role, the betrayal and deaths of certain characters), but there are certain twists in the story that still managed to catch me off guard (Dink's identity, Guy's tattoo, it's meaning and the real reason why the race exists). Victoria Scott was able to keep back secrets and mysterious well enough to keep the story interesting going into the next book. With steady pace and enough action, Fire & Flood has a potential of being a good trilogy, I'm just sad that it didn't work well with me as much as I wanted it to, and it was because of the main character. I hope I get to see Tella in a more likable light in the sequel.
Content (plot, story flow, character):
I tried to give Tella a chance, really. But you know how they're in the middle or the aftermath of a particularly intense scene and then she wonders what she looks like? How she keeps in worrying about the little insignificant things like wishing for a mirror while in the middle of a desert? Those times ruin anything she has built up in the story for me. I wish she was more likable, because that dislike seriously is what hindered my appreciation of the story more.
Okay: Liked, but The Goddess demands more!