Monday, December 29, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood (Victoria Scott)

Fire & Flood (Fire & Flood, #1)
Title: Fire & Flood
Series: Fire & Flood, Book 1
Author: Victoria Scott
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 25, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Fantasy Thriller
Content Rating: Older Teen (some strong language, violence and some brutal violence, sensuality)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Star Rating: 2.5 Stars
Find It On: Goodreads


Time is slipping away.... 

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?

*          *          *

Why I Read It: I was super-excited for this book when it was first announced - I promoted it like mad and couldn't have been happier when the publisher sent me an ARC. And then I read the first page...

Series: I believe this is the first book in a duology? It encompasses half the Brimstone Bleed race.

Writing: I found the style a bit odd with occasionally confusing word choices, but otherwise a short, quick, and fast-paced read.

Setting: My original assumption was that this took place in a dystopic future, but with its scattered present-day references (Google, Lady Gaga, etc.) I think it's actually supposed to be relatively present day, or the very near future? Since the game began with 144 Contenders though (too many players - and workers - involved to be kept as secret as they claimed), I had a hard time swallowing the premise. That aside, the first two ecosystems (jungle and desert) read pretty realistic.

Story: This was way too close to Hunger Games for me. The only big difference was that the main character was self-centered and generally unlikeable, her decision to "volunteer as Tribute" an act of spontaneous rebellion instead of selfless love. Throughout the story she couldn't focus on why she was there to literally save her life, fleeting thoughts of her dying brother lingering only a sentence or two before being shoved aside by thoughts of the romantic interest, Guy. Tella had zero skills, and if she hadn't found Guy, hadn't found the others, she would've been dead only a few days into the jungle because she was too worried about her hair.

The story, in spite of Tella, got better as it progressed. As long as Tella wasn't thinking about herself, it was a relatively entertaining and fast-paced adventure. And no punches were pulled with the violence, which gave me some satisfaction when Tella was in front of said punches. We really didn't get much in the way of answers to the story's mystery until the last few chapters, and while it proved even more like Hunger Games my interest was piqued enough that, despite my dislike for the viewpoint character, I want to find out what happens enough to read the next book. I won't be rooting for Tella, though.

Characters: Tella was 16 going on 12 (or younger), and obnoxious. She was immature, vain, and not too bright, and she annoyed me from the very first sentence. I couldn't bring myself to root for her, and considered her multiple times being in mortal danger the highlights of the book. Thankfully when she had others to distract her from whining about her clothes and hair she was a little more palatable, so I was relieved when companions became permanent a third of the way through. She did gradually grow less obnoxious as she became acquainted with her survival instinct, and even grew a few slivers of backbone. By the end one could even say she discovered some bravery in herself, although it was 95% desperation. But would I root for her to win the rest of the race? No. Even having grown a little, even having discovered her compassion for Pandoras (which really didn't fit her personality at all for me), I'm behind Guy all the way. Not only because of big spoilery reveals at the end, but because he's in it to win it and acted like it. Or he did until he let his hormones get the better of him and fell for a material girl that will get him killed and completely ruin his chances of winning.

Romantic Relationship: No matter what Tella decided, her feelings for Guy were almost completely situational. The rest was because he was hot. In the real world she wouldn't have given his Green Beret type the time of day, so I had a very hard time believing, outside of the Brimstone Bleed situation, that she would've been even remotely interested. As for Guy's attraction to idea, but he's an idiot.

Conclusion: If this hadn't been a review book, I probably wouldn't have finished it - Tella was immature and obnoxious and I really couldn't stand her. Thankfully it was a short and fast-paced read, and once Tella acquired distracting companions the story was much more engaging. After the big reveals at the end I'm curious enough to read the next book, Salt & Stone, although I won't be rooting for Tella to win the Brimstone Bleed. Recommend for readers who prefer their action violent and love cute animal companions enough to forgive an obnoxious viewpoint character.

For Fans Of: The Hunger Games, I guess

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