Series: Fire & Flood #1
Published by Scholastic Press on February 25th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: From Publisher
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<p><strong>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.</strong></p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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.</p>
<p>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?</p>
The premise had me at animal companion and epic race!
Tella isn’t your usual main character you find in these type of novels. You know the ones I mean, the kick-ass, multi-skilled characters like Katniss (The Hunger Games), June (Legend) or even Tris (Divergent) who strive to be everything they can be, even heading into danger. Nope, not Tella. Tella loved clothes and make-up and is bored out in the middle of nowhere, away from technology and her old friends since her parents uprooted the family when her brother became ill. She loves her family, do not get me wrong, but she also has a bit of selfishness about her too, making her a little more human and real for her age. She is also naive and sort of careless because she jumps into the Brimstone Bleed race, desperate for the cure her brother needs, without even knowing what she was getting into. I liked that about her though. She was different. And even when it took a little while to warm up to her, I admired how courageous and brave she was to step outside of her comfort zone for someone she loved.
As Tella is unsure what she is getting herself into with this race, as are we the readers. The details are vague at first but pieces of information is given gradually. At times I was driven mad at not understanding everything completely right away, but in the end I liked the suspense of not knowing and the ‘how’ of later finding out some of the details. There is so much we still do not know and I look forward to discovering all of that with later books in the series.
I should probably mention the romance brewing between Tella and a fellow Contender, Guy. It wasn’t a huge part of the story but was just enough to leave me craving more. Guy was the super mysterious and secretive type. He was very prepared and skilled but a complete closed book, only opening up for Tella one page at a time. He could be harsh but he could also be helpful and sweet. And these two developed an attraction and comradery in the race that rivaled other partnerships that developed. In fact, Tella makes friends with a few others but no one as loyal and protective as Guy. I was wary to trust many of them but they added so much to the story in so many different ways.
Probably my favorite aspect of the whole novel was the Pandoras. Each Contender is given a Pandora egg to protect and take care of until it hatches into an unknown animal companion with hidden talents and skills to help them complete the race. Not only was it fun to see what type of animal Tella would end up with, but finding out what other Contenders had as well. And they had some wicked amazing survival talents as well as loyalty and protectiveness over their human companions. Of course Tella’s Pandora is extremely unique, and adorable too! You probably wouldn’t associate adorableness with kick-ass skills but hers had it!
The race elements were exciting and dangerous, though mildly so at times. I suspended a bit of disbelief in this area as it seemed certain hardships were glossed over as a little more survivable than I would expect. Honestly, it never really bothered me. Obstacles arose, whether it was fellow Contenders out to reduce the competition, other Pandoras or strange new rules making everyone out for blood. All of this got my blood pumping and made it hard to put the book down! I needed to know what would happen next. I admittedly was sad when I got to the end because I so do not want to wait a year for the sequel. With a premise similar to The Hunger Games in ways and even the television show The Amazing Race, Fire & Flood stood out to me as something just incredibly enjoyable, addictive and fun to read. I’d absolutely recommend this one!