Series: Fire & Flood #1
Published by Chicken House on March 6, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
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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's brother is dying. He's got cancer, and Tella is helpless to save him. Or so she thought. When an invitation arrives for Tella to compete in the Brimstone Bleed, a deadly competition that will lead her through treacherous jungle and scorching desert, she doesn't think twice. Because the prize is a cure to any illness. But Tella will be facing more than just the elements.
Fire & Flood is a book filled with inconsistencies. It wants to be Hunger Games, but it’s not a dystopian. It wants to be Pokemon, but the explanation of these pandoras just doesn’t make sense. It’s written like a middle grade book, but it’s filled with moments of gore. It hints at romantic development, then thrusts us into a fully blown relationship. It seems want to be everything at once, but didn’t deliver on its promises.
Let’s talk about the world building. We are thrust into the Brimstone Bleed where all these contestants are vying for the main prize – a cure which will save their loved ones from dying. That’s without any explanation of why this competition exists and why everyone needs a cure so desperately in modern day times. Throughout the whole book, we’re strung along this competition where Tella and her friends are trying to find blue flags. We get a very poor explanation nearing the end of the book about why and how the competition was created, which seemed to be more a matter of convenience than being believable.
Tella was a vain and impractical character. When she hears about the competition, she packs her bags with the ‘essentials’, including her nail polish. When she sees everyone racing for a pandora egg, she finally stumbles upon one and proceeds to do her hair and makeup. And when she’s in the middle of these tough conditions in the arena, she thinks about the latest fashions, how she looks all the time, and even getting massages. Which seemed oddly out of place in a serious survival competition. Luckily Tella’s weirdly placed vanity dies down as the action takes over in the latter half of the book.
Mostly, I think about the size of my butt and its general flatness versus roundness.
The romance or whatever it was, was the most under developed one I’ve ever come across. So first, we’re introduced to Guy as the “The serial killer–looking dude who I thought was going to kidney punch me.” The next second, they are spending time together at base camp and the pacing is WAY off when we skip through days at a time. All of a sudden, without any sort of warning the two are together. I feel we skipped even the whole insta love stage and went straight to being in a relationship. Luckily, there wasn’t much of an emphasis on the romance and I was glad for that. Because serial killers aren’t appealing to anyone.
Now onto the positive – the pandoras were my favourite part of the book, creatures which are based on real animals who can listen to commands, find food, and protect their owners. Tella’s pandora, a baby fox, has the power of scanning other pandoras and turning into them. In pokemon terms, I picture it as an Eevee with the power of Ditto. Super cute and powerful, except the poor explanation we’re given about how they exist is that scientists have created them from genetic manipulation. How does that even make any sense, especially since no other animal or creature can do what this one does?
The writing was another weird and inconsistent thing. Some parts of it, including Tella’s thoughts were quite juvenile and middle grade. But there were some parts of violence and gore that would suddenly pop up, like eyes being gouged out and an amputated finger.
I picked Fire & Flood apart, but in the end, I actually did enjoy it. It explores and combines some unique concepts and I’ve never seen the concept of pandoras in YA fiction. I wonder why it’s never been done before, especially with the popularity of Pokemon, Digimon, and even Yu-gioh? It’s definitely a book filled with flaws but if you can overlook some of them (like I just turned a blind eye to the romance) then you might actually enjoy this.
Thank you to Scholastic Australia for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Giveaway – international
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