Monday, March 24, 2014

Review: Fire & Flood

FIRE & FLOOD
Fire & Flood #1
Victoria Scott
Young Adult/Dystopian
304 pages
Scholastic
Available Now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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?


MY THOUGHTS
Fire & Flood is thrilling and action-packed, the life and death situations accompanied by no shortage of humor to ensure we're pulled into Tella's world mentally and emotionally as she fights for a way to save her brother's life. Tella's sense of humor is a pleasant surprise, something we're not really expecting given the gravity of the premise, but it's an aspect of the story we find ourselves extraordinarily thankful for when it catches us slightly off guard in the moments we need it most. Tella's entrance into the Brimstone Bleed happens quickly, preventing us early on in the story from truly understanding the seriousness of the race itself until death is suddenly bearing down on us in the wilds of the jungle, and from there things for Tella and the rest of the contestants only get darker. As a result, Tella's witty one-liners delivered in the intimacy of her own internal monologues are like a warm hand holding our own, letting us know this situation has not yet gotten the best of her and giving us the strength we need to face down what we know will be increasingly difficult to endure.

Tella is an easily lovable heroine, someone whose aforementioned dry humor is a balm to the deep wounds decorating our hearts as the race continues, and whose unrelenting dedication to her older brother has us in her corner from the very beginning. She has moments where the pressures of the race start to overwhelm her and her mind wanders to the possibility of taking the out offered to contestants at the end of each leg, but all she has do do is repeat her brother's name to herself and she finds her strength renewed. She's not a gifted survivalist in any way, making it very easy for us as readers to put ourselves in her shoes, and she's thankfully not above relying on others to help her find her footing, fully acknowledging she needs help now and then to overcome the challenges the race puts forth.

There is a romantic thread woven through the dangerous fabric of the Brimstone Bleed, but its not a relationship that steals the spotlight from race itself, rather it pops into prominence with perfect timing just when the weight of the challenges start to take their toll, allowing our hearts to feel the rejuvenating warmth of human affection before we're returned to the cold reality of survival. Guy is a little tricky in the early stages of their relationship, oddly averse to Tella for reasons we can't quite comprehend, and while we never learn exactly why he didn't want to partner with her initially, he does slowly warm to her (or more accurately, is slowly worn down by her endearing moments of social awkwardness) and they become a couple we're rooting for to defeat odds that are overwhelmingly stacked against them.

Those more inquisitive readers who prefer a lot of backstory as to how something like the Brimstone Bleed came to be might find themselves a little disappointed throughout, the history of the race something held just outside of our reach for majority of the book. Toward the end however, Ms. Scott does grant us some much needed understanding, and while the reason for the race's creation seems just a touch far-fetched even in a fictional situation, the story and characters more than make up for it. This is lightning-quick and emotional read, tears threatening to spill over in the final chapters as the second leg of the race wraps up, but a determination that mirrors Tella's own thrums through our blood and tempers the sadness as we look forward to the next installment.

Rating: 4/5
 

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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

50 comments:

  1. Yay Montana! Although I'm not the world's largest Montana fan and would move away tomorrow if given the chance. But still, it's nice to be acknowledged. This does sound like a fun book. Especially with her dry humor.

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    1. Really? I've always wanted to go to Montana, or anywhere out west really. I've heard it's gorgeous:)

      Hope you get a chance to read this one Alison!

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  2. I do appreciate have a little back story so I won't have to keep guessing throughout. Thank for the detailed review of one of my most anticipated books ever. Looking forward to reading this!

    Precious @ Fragments of Life

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    1. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did Precious!

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  3. The cover looks a bit like a thriller

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    1. You could probably call it a dystopian thriller:)

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  4. Hmm. We are on the opposite end of this spectrum, Jenny :( I wasn't a fan of this book, but I did enjoyed some of the secondary characters. I guess I didn't find any humor when it came to Tella like you did. But that's okay, atleast the cover is pretty =)

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    1. It happens Aman! I did very much enjoy Tella, but as with any character, she's not for everyone:)

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  5. I'm so happy that you enjoyed Tella as a heroine. I have heard some not so great things, but I'm glad that she worked for you:) Oh, so it's a slow-build? Ha. It's cute that Tella has social awkwardness. I'm glad to hear that the characters are the heart of the story. So happy you enjoyed, Jenny:)

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    1. She did work for me Siiri! I thought she was funny, and I liked that she had zero survival skills going in. I could definitely relate to that:)

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  6. Scott's novels seem to be a lot of fun and I'm glad to see you enjoyed her latest, Jenny! For some reason, they simply don't appeal to me - not sure why - but perhaps one day she'll write something I'm eager to get my hands on. Fantastic review, dear!

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  7. This book sounds very interesting and it is right up my dystopian TBR list. Well written review!

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  8. Being dropped into the middle of a story isn't my favorite, but I can normally refrain from passing judgement too quickly, and if we DO eventually get answers (even toward the end), I can be patient in waiting for them. I was already interested in this book, and it seems like another of those books that you just have to read for yourself. An equal number of lovers and haters . . . but I think I'll like this one. What I've heard about Telah makes her sound more quirky than annoying (as others have labeled her). Excellent review!

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

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    1. It's a long time coming on how the race came to be, but honestly, I was so caught up in the race itself that it didn't bother me too much that I didn't know how it got started. We do find out the how and why of it in the end though which I liked:)

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  9. I really loved this one too (and actually wrote the review for it last night!).
    I took me a while to warm up to Tella but I ended up rooting for her madly by the end!
    I'm hoping we'll get a better understanding of everything Brimstone Bleed on the next book too.
    Great review!

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    1. Yay! Can't wait to read your thoughts Pili!

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  10. Yay, I'm glad you enjoyed Fire & Flood too, Jenny! I really liked Tella and thought she was easy to relate too (imperfect & witty) and the romance was just right. As far as the Brimstone Bleed, I'm glad there was some backstory given though it was brief. Great review :)

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    1. *high five* I just had a lot of fun reading this story, and I got super attached to the characters and their pandoras:) Definitely looking forward to book 2!

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  11. I liked Tella! She definitely would have fallen apart without help (much like me, I'm sure). Definitely appreciated her style and her internal monologue!

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    1. ME TOO MARY! I would have been a mess in that jungle, so I liked that she was out of sorts as well:)

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  12. I'm glad you liked this one, Jenny. I tried reading it, but I honestly couldn't connect with Tella and I didn't really like her sense of humor. She just wasn't my kind of character, unfortunately. I need to pick it up again because I've good things about the Pandoras.
    Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. It seems to have inspired some widely varying opinions which always makes a book more interesting to me:) I loved the pandoras, they were awesome!

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  13. I felt the same way you did. I think Victoria Scott is a fabulous writer and her books are just fun.

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    1. Yes! I blew through this one really quickly, I love it when that happens:)

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  14. Not sure of this one, Jenny. I've read some mixed reviews about it, but I think those reviewers had didn't expectations than you do. I think I'll wait to see what book 2 looks like before picking this series up. Glad you enjoyed this one!

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    1. I was a fan Rummanah. I liked Tella and I loved the pandoras, so it was a great read for me. I'm curious to see how the next two environments will go for Tella!

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  15. I've read mixed reviews on this one, mostly because of the lack of proper world-building. But if the character make up for it, I might just pick it up. I love strong characters, and I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it, Jenny!

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    1. I didn't mind that the reason behind the race wasn't all that clear for most of the book, I found the characters and the challenges they faced to be interesting enough on their own:) I was glad we got a couple answers before the end though, at least enough to tide us over till book 2!

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  16. Yay! I am glad you liked this, I have seen some lower reviews but I really did enjoy this one. I agree with you that Tella was completely lovable.

    Beautiful review Jenny!

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    1. I did too Ali! It kept me entertained the whole way through:)

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  17. I'm disappointed to hear that the backstory wasn't quite up to snuff; it's usually one of my fav parts of books like this. Good to know that it was a good read overall though. Thanks for the review!

    Carmel @ Rabid Reads

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    1. I would have liked the answers about the race to come maybe a touch sooner so I didn't keep asking myself the same questions as I read, but it really didn't take away from the story too much for me.

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  18. I've been wanting to read this one because I do like the author a lot. Unfortunately the pub didn't send me a copy so now it'll probably be awhile before I can get it. But I'll definitely pick up a copy eventually!

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    1. Hope you get a chance to read it soon Candace!

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  19. Love that the romance complements rather than stealing the show...I like a lot of back story but this sounds like it is pretty great otherwise.

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  20. When I read the blurb to this book a few months back, I immediately thought this book was exactly going to be like The Hunger Games. And when I received a copy, I really wasn't in the mood for this sort of book, but I think you have given me a push in the right direction to give this book a go. I really think that I would like Tally's character too! Great review!

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  21. I need to get my hands on a finish copy ASAP. for some reason my arc disappeared! So happy that you enjoyed the story.

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  22. You know when a book pulls me into its world it always end up the best way. I sort of become its slave. (this sounds too kinky. Glass what did you do to me!). Anyhow I love the sound of action and humor is always welcome. So glad you enjoyed this one. Great review, Jenny :)

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  23. I have a copy of this and I am saving it for Apocalypse. I like that it has lots of humor peppered in to get through the tough parts, a little worried about those final chapters, though.

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  24. I love how the author used the romance to slow the intense plot allowing you to have dark and light. I think I want to try the audio version of this.

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  25. I don't often need a lot of backstory even when I do crave it... but as long as there is SOME understanding. Luckily I'm glad she provides it. Curious about the relationship. I like it when they slowly warm to each other. :) Great review. So adding this to my wishlist.

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  26. I can't even tell you how much I love a character who has that kind of humor even in darker times. I think not having a lot of back story in this type of book is understandable and wouldn't bother me. I need to read this!

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  27. This sounds a bit like The Hunger Games with the competition aspect. I'm definitely intrigued by the premise and the race the most in this one (although the far-fetched explanation does make me pause). Tella sounds great too!

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  28. Montana in the summer is gorgeous. Since I'm not a skier, I don't love it in the winter but have to go there every February for a psychology conference. This book sounds interesting. Great review, as usual! Love the title of the "Brimstone Bleed".

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  29. For some reason, I never would have thought this would be so funny. Tella sounds like my type of heroune and the dry humor will be most welcome. I had my doubts and I'm SO very tired of dystopias, but I should give this a chance anyway.
    Thanks, Jenny!

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  30. Great review! I was initially worried about the mixed reactions, but I ended up really loving this. I think the back story is a little far fetched, but I'm grateful the answers aren't the ones we've begun to expect from this genre. I'm really excited to see where the books go next!

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  31. My biggest struggle with this was the lack of world building. I agree that more comes near the end, but I was still disappointed, and I didn't like how back ended it was. I struggled with this romance at first. I didn't get their connection for a while, but it grew on me. And I agree that Tella is amusing and it's fun to be inside of her head. Glad you enjoyed this!

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