Series: Fire & Flood #1
Published by Scholastic Press on February 25, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Romantic, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Sexual Content: Some sexuality.
Reviewed by: Megan
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?
The first novel in Victoria Scott’s new YA series is CATCHING FIRE, THE GOLDEN COMPASS, and The Amazing Race all rolled into one. But imagine if Katniss couldn’t hunt, or Lyra couldn’t communicate with Pantalaimon. Now imagine that they were still determined to do whatever it took to save those they loved and you’ll understand Tella Holloway’s dilemma in FIRE & FLOOD.
The comparisons to THE HUNGER GAMES will fly fast and furious, so let me get that out of the way. I’m sure Victoria Scott is going to get very tired of hearing it, but the similarities are inescapable, right down to having an Effie-esque woman greet Tella aboard the train. The Brimstone Bleed is a winner-take-all competition, and while killing one’s opponents doesn’t seem to be a requirement, it’s hardly frowned upon. Fortunately, these days what matters in story-telling is the telling, and the further she gets from home, the less Tella’s story resembles that of the girl from District 12. They start out with a nice difference, too: Tella, though physically fit, is more of a Girly Girl than an Action Girl. She worries about her appearance, and instead of focusing on ruthless practicality, she takes time to be sarcastic.
Unlike THE HUNGER GAMES or HIS DARK MATERIALS, FIRE & FLOOD seems to take place in our modern world. Tella thinks like a girl from the present day and references Greek salads, mascara, and digital music players - which makes the Brimstone Bleed race itself seem like something from another planet. Even accepting desperation as the reason behind her willingness to join the race, it’s hard to accept that any modern, tech-savvy girl would automatically believe mysterious benefactors behind an uber-secret three-month global race will have a cure to an equally mysterious illness, without wanting to see some proof. If she lived in the sort of world where that could happen, the way the Hunger Games and Capitol shenanigans are a part of Katniss’s life, fine. But Tella seems to live in our world, so her entry into the race seems like an artificial set up, and everyone’s blind acceptance of the Pandoras (genetically engineered animals with special powers that hatch from eggs), is just weird.
Once the race begins, however, you’ll get swept up in the adventure, and likely forget all about that. Tella toughens over time, but her strength is in her allies, both the human and the Pandora. I’m a soft touch where animals are concerned, and when the fates of several Pandoras become crucial in the last quarter of the book, there were tears in my eyes. I was only slightly less emotional when Tella’s tribe fractures; Scott does a great job of pulling together interesting characters of a variety of ages and backgrounds. The first book ends in the middle of the race, and I kept turning pages, hoping for more. Nobody is safe, and I just want to scoop them all up into a hug, humans and Pandoras alike.Series Titles:
- Fire & Flood