I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Fire & Flood #2
Published by Scholastic Press on February 24th, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Science Fiction, Young Adult
What would you do to save someone you love?
In Fire & Flood, Tella Holloway faced a dangerous trek through the jungle and across the desert, all to remain a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed for a chance at obtaining the Cure for her brother. She can't quit--she has to win the race, save Cody, and then fight to make sure the race stops before it can claim any more lives. In the next legs of the race, across the ocean and over mountains, Tella will face frostbite, sharks, avalanche, and twisted new rules in the race.
But what if the danger is deeper than that? How do you know who to trust when everyone's keeping secrets? What do you do when the person you'd relied on most suddenly isn't there for support? How do you weigh one life against another?
The race is coming to an end, and Tella is running out of time, resources, and strength. At the start of the race there were one hundred twenty-two Contenders. As Tella and her remaining friends start the final part of the race, just forty-one are left--and only one can win.
I will admit, I had a lot of problems with the first one, but it was essentially a train wreck that I read really quickly. Like bad tv and junker movies, it seems like I can’t stay away from the same in books. Essentially, this book falls in the junker category. Sure, it’s an awful lot of fun to read and exciting at times, but there’s really not any substance to it.
I read Fire & Flood some time last year, and it was a plot hole ridden mess with a protagonist I hated. This time around, they fill in a lot of the holes and Tella actually grows a bit as a human being. Unfortunately, shes still stubborn as hell, trying to prove things that don’t really need proving. She’s also still in love with this stereotypical bad boy who’s like five years older than her. That’s fine. We can’t all be perfect, and her tangents about home life and her awesome dress for some formal dance were thankfully few and far between.
As we continue into the Brimstone Bleed there are only two more ecosystems to overcome, and hopefully get the cure for a lucky loved one. The first ecosystem in this book is the ocean, which is quite possibly worse than the desert, because at least in the desert they could still get water. Also there weren’t secret lurking creatures ready to nom them.
Except, of course, those in charge of the Brimstone Bleed wern’t going to make it easy. The boats are rigged to blow and the rafts provided have blood bags beneath them, luring sharks the whole way. Both a Pandora and a contender succumb to those jaws, despite precautions taken.
Harper is back as a contender, making good on her promise to help Tella win. Other new contenders who join our little group are Willow, a girl younger than Olivia, who vies to be the groups favorite, and curry favor where she can. A man named Cotton also joins the group and despite having a secret, it doesn’t really seem to matter. We’ve also got a grump old guy named Mr. Larson, who can sing opera, but is otherwise an awful awful human being.
When they finally reach base camp during the ocean portion, they have to swim through a sea of jellyfish. Really? They didn’t have to deal with enough already? Once there, they get to rest, but once it’s time to start again, in order to get a head start, their Pandoras have to fight in combat to the death. Not every Pandora has to fight because Tella opens her mouth and causes a scene in which Mr. Larson gets shot in the gut. Seriously, at this point Tella is pretty much just lucky that there are other bodies around to be meat shields for her.
So they continue onto the next portion of the race, which is a snowy mountain. They have to deal with cold and climbing, but the group is pretty much convinced that they are going to make it there first and are doing everything possible in order to do so. Unfortunately, and this is where I get super spoilerific, Tella doesn’t win. But she’s at least in the top five, which means she’ll be offered a job? Maybe? Is that how it works. Unfortunately there is a big old brawl right after the finish line, and nothing is really resolved. Tella falls asleep in Guy’s arms and end scene.
I really want to talk about Cotton for a bit. In no way did he seem malicious towards anyone in the group until a certain point, in which he got really distant and weird. Clearly he didn’t contend in the first two races, so where did he come from? He tells Tella, while choking her out, though it seems that there was really no reason for him to do so? Cotton was Titus’s brother and VENGEANCE, though he takes the high road and doesn’t take it. Overall, his story arc was pretty weaksauce. He was just way too wishy washy through the whole book an suddenly snapped.
Willow, on the other hand, I hated from the start. I was so glad when Harper had to choose between the two, that she chose Olivia. I would have probably thrown the book across room in anger otherwise.
Overall, it was a compelling installment. I can’t figure how a job at the company running this could be more interesting, but I guess we’ll have to see how Victoria Scott spins it.