So recently there has been some booktube buzz about Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott, and since I saw it for 99p on Kindle I decided to give it a whirl.
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?
(Synopsis via GoodReads)
This book has been pitched as The Hunger Games meets Pokemon, and I can see the influence. Particularly The Hunger Games is a clear inspiration to the author, I mean some of the lines are borderline plagerism. For example, "May the bravest contender win" is very similar to The Hunger Games' "May the odds be ever in your favour." That said I don't get the impression that the author was plagiarising or trying desperately to be like the Hunger Games, to me it felt more like a nod to Suzanne Collins, a casual 'Hey, I realise this is similar to a well known book but stick with me'. To be perfectly honest I wouldn't pitch this book as 'like The Hunger Games' I'd be more likely to pitch it as 'like that American TV show The Amazing Race but with actual danger.' The Pokemon link is even more tenuous, and to be perfectly honest it felt more like a mix between the abilities of a Pokemon but the link of the daemons from Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy.
On to the actual book itself then. The one thing I wish I'd known before going into this book is that this is the first book in a trilogy. I thought this was a stand alone and that completely through off the pacing for me. If I had known before hand perhaps that would have been different, but even so I think the abrupt ending would still be an issue. Whilst I loved the content of this book, it felt like half of a story, there was no real cliffhanger or conclusion, it just sort of ended. I don't think this would be as much of a problem if I was reading the whole series and I could chain read the books, but as I'm reading it upon first release I'd expect a better ending than that. Don't let this negativity give you the wrong impression though, this is a fast paced novel with a lot of action and it is a very addictive quick read.
I also really enjoyed the characters and their development throughout the book. You would think it would be difficult to get to know other characters in this kind of a competitive book, but there are a number of good and bad characters that you get to know pretty well over the course of the book, and you do see how the race influences them. And of course there is boy love interest because no YA would be complete without it. I really liked how it was handled in this book though, it was a sub-plot secondary to the action and it remained that way throughout.
I think this is one of those trilogies that will get better as they unfold, there's a lot of set up in this book and the promise of more dystopia-esque drama in the future.