Author: Victoria Scott
Published by: Chicken House
Publication date: 6th March 2014
Genres: Young Adult/Dystopian/Adventure/Action
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Pfft. Mixed feelings.
Fire and Flood is not what I expected it to be. I was imagining a dark, thrilling, original dystopian, and...it was dark...sometimes. It was certainly thrilling. But original? No. It was almost exactly the same as The Hunger Games, right down to the little gold pin. After the huge success of The Hunger Games trilogy it's no surprise that the YA market has been flooded (see what I did there?) with similar books, but...y'know. Can we have something different now?
Tella's parents randomly decide to home school Tella and her brother, and move to the middle of nowhere in Montana. Tella is dying of boredom without a mall and her friends close-by, so when a small blue box appears on her bed, she can't help but feel curious. Inside is a small white device like a hearing aid, and it plays a message inviting her to participate in the Brimstone Bleed, a race to the death in which competitors will encounter four different environments, with the help of their chosen Pandora - an animal with special powers that will protect them. The prize for winning the Brimstone Bleed? The cure to any illness, and Tella's brother has cancer. If she doesn't win, she'll die trying, and so will her brother. Only one can win the race, but who will it be?
Despite what I said at the beginning of this review, I did really enjoy this. Tella's self-deprecating humour and wit made me laugh a lot, but she was also really irritating at points. For example, she tried to take purple glittery nail polish into the jungle. She had purple, pink and red feather boas above her mirror at home. She was worrying about the fact that she had no make-up on...in the jungle. She's that girl. Picture Amy Willerton when she was in I'm A Celeb and you've got the idea. Luckily, something that Victoria Scott is exceptionally good at is character development and, towards the end of the book, I actually really liked Tella, and the experience changed her for the better. What I'm about to say next is probably very controversial but I ended up liking that she wasn't insanely badass, daring, and independent like Katniss and Tris. She was just normal, goofy and compassionate. It was nice to have a break from the usual dystopian female mold.
One thing I would have loved to see more of was world building. I don't know whether the Brimstone Bleed happened in the past, present, or future, and I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about what state the world was in at that point. Fortunately the descriptions within the race were good and I could picture everything clearly, but some context would have made it much better.
Ah, cliffhangers, I really don't like you. *spoiler* After all that action, we didn't get to find out if she won or not. I need the second book. Now! *end of spoiler* However, I can tell this series is going to be extremely popular and successful. Full of adventure and moments of life and death, this is a book you will not want to put down, whether you love it or not...