Author: Victoria Scott
Rating: ★★★ 1/2
Synopsis: 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?
Huge thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for the advance reader copy of this book!
River’s Review (3.5 Stars)
As much as I enjoyed this, I didn’t love it as much as I expected to. I LOOOOVED Scott’s first novel, The Collector, and while I knew this would be VERY different, I was still super excited to read it. Tella was great, the writing was snappy, fresh and fun, and the Pandoras were sooooooooo cute! But I had some trouble with the world building. As much as I just wanted to let go and accept this ‘down the rabbit hole’ world I really would have felt more… settled? if it had been set a bit more in the future or in a more obvious dystopian world. It really bothered me that Tella was like I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS and then never really pushed for answers. She just accepted things along the way and when she’d start to get answer I’d get really excited but then whoever was giving them to her would stop and she’d just be like ‘oh I want answers but… oh well later’.
The action was really good, and I love that the book only covered half the race, but I would have liked to have connected with the characters a bit more. There were moments when I really felt for them, and other times when I just couldn’t connect at all. I liked Guy and Tella, but I didn’t really feel their relationship as much as I would have liked. The build was slow, but I would have liked more. Same for Tella and her brother. We get a lot of her telling us how close they are, but she leaves her home at the beginning SO fast that we don’t actually see them TOGETHER. I guess a lot of the relationships just felt under-developed.
So yeah, I liked this a lot (but didn’t love it as much as I’d hoped) and can’t wait to see what happens in the next one!
Sam’s Review (3.5 Stars)
I am very torn on this book. I have not read Victoria Scott’s Dante Walker series which I’ve heard high praises for, so I went into this novel thankful with nothing to compare it to. I enjoyed Fire & Flood and I finally like it’s a promising new series despite its faults.
One of my biggest issues with Fire & Flood is that its a touch light on the world-building. Tella spends the majority of the novel asking questions about being a Contender and being a part of the Brimstone Bleed, but at the same time never seeks answers to ber own questions. That stuck me as a bit odd for most of the story because I felt like the questions Tella had were the same ones I had. Hopefully in book two we’ll see more development in this department.
I did like how fast paced the novel was. Scott doesn’t give the reader time to breath or rest because something is always happening, be it good or bad (though mostly bad), and in that sense this book is good at keeping the reader on its toes. There’s even some uncomfortable moments in the story, particularly any instance that had bugs. Bugs generally don’t bother me, but Scott’s descriptions of the bug incidences were pretty brutal. The action scenes always felt dead on and wonderfully timed since it is a race and it’s pretty damn scary.
I wish there had been more in terms of characterization. I get that there is going to be more than one book, so I’m going to be a bit more forgiving here. I wish there had been a better build for Guy and Tella’s relationship, and I wish that the relationship between Cody and Tella had been more well defined. We are told lots of aspects about these relationships, but the level of show for me didn’t give enough pull for me to feel as connected as I’d like.
Overall I think Scott has a very fun and action packed novel for young readers. There’s definitely a lot of tension and creepy factor for those into that. I look forward to seeing the development of this world and these characters because I do think they have the potential to be fascinating to say the least.