Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood #1) by Victoria Scott
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Goodreads • Amazon
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?
First off, let me address something: Fire & Flood definitely has a Hunger Games vibe to it. There's a dangerous competition with only one winner that involves a perilous trek across treacherous landscapes. A sister competing to save her sibling (in this case, a brother). But, as far as I'm concerned, that's where the similarities end.
The Brimstone Bleed is no Hunger Games; all of its contestants are willing and they compete not for their lives, but for the lives of their sick loved ones. And it's not necessarily a fight to the death. Is it dangerous? Absolutely! But there's no direct barrier to everyone's survival in the Bleed. It may seem like a small shift, but it definitely gives a different feel. Sure, they all want to win over the other Contenders, but it's not about killing each other—as a result, alliances are more believable and it's easier to become attached to the characters Tella encounters on her journey.
Speaking of Tella... I kind of loved her. Granted, there were times I wanted to smack her—her priorities, on more than one occasion, were rather misaligned. But she felt so genuine. This is a teenage girl trying to come to terms with how she found herself in this situation. She's quirky, silly, often a little obnoxious. She loves her brother, and her entire family, fiercely, even if she's not always good at showing it. Tella is the kind of heroine I love, but people tend to bash. Imperfect and at the will of questionable teenage decision-making, her journey is not without stumbles. More than once, we hear about how much she misses makeup, clothes and looking pretty. She's often scared. She becomes rather attached to a boy and spends a lot of time thinking about him. But, seriously? I dare anyone criticizing this girl to actually claim they'd do better.
On the subject of boys... Oh my Guy. Mysterious? Check. Brooding? Check. Possibly dangerous? Check. Easy on eyes... Uh, yep. He's exactly the person I'd want on my side, and Tella certainly feels the same way. She's instantly fascinated. And who wouldn't be? Not only does he fit many of the characteristics we love about our book boys, but he seems to know a lot more about the Bleed than those around him. Guy may be the only way for Tella to make sure she not only survives but figure out just what she's found herself a part of. There's a lot more to be learned in this series, that's for sure.
But this brings me to what is, almost definitely, my favorite part of this concept: the Pandoras. Genetically modified animals that help their contenders through the Bleed. They. Are. Awesome. Especially Madox. I adore Madox. I want one, plain and simple.
The secondary characters Tella met along the way were also great: well-developed, diverse, and inspiring of sympathy. This is a tough situation for more than just Tella, and seeing the way the Bleed affects the different personalities really serves to round out the story.
At the core of all of this is the wonderful style of Victoria Scott herself. Her humor and flare is excellent and flawlessly transitions between the nail-biting scenes. More than once, I texted Izzy to share a particularly hilarious scene (Does that count as taunting? Quite possibly... Whoops...). It was certainly distinctive and this is what really set the book apart from similar stories. There are jokes and awkward blunders you certainly won't find in the Hunger Games, and I loved it!
My last comment on the comparison is that, to me, this is not a novel that can be classified as dystopian. This could be our world now; the premise of the story pretty much hinges on this occurring in our universe, just under the nose of everyday folk.Which makes it all the more disconcerting as you're reading, if you ask me.
Fire & Flood was a perfect mix of on-point humor, vibrant characters, and enthralling adventure! I'd definitely recommend this book to YA adventure fans. People who love dangerous quest stories. Even those just looking for a humor/adventure combo. This was a great read!
Victoria Scott is a teen fiction writer represented by Sara Crowe. She's the author of the Fire & Flood series published by Scholastic, and the Dante Walker trilogy published by Entangled Teen. Her books have been bought and translated in eleven foreign markets including the UK, Turkey, China, Poland, Germany, Australia, Israel, Taiwan, Brazil, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.
Victoria lives in Dallas with her husband and hearts cotton candy something fierce.