Fire & Flood and Salt & Stone by Victoria Scott

Tella’s older brother is sick and none of the doctors can figure out what’s wrong with him. After being forced to move to Montana with the rest of her family, Tella receives an invitation to compete in the Brimstone Bleed–the winner gets a cure for any disease. Contenders will have to race across four different regions: jungle, desert, sea, and mountain. They will have an animal guide called a Pandora to aid and protect them. The only rule is to make it to base camp before the 14 day limit is up.

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I’ve heard some people say that these books are a cross between “The Hunger Games” and “The Amazing Race”. To them I say, “You’ve obviously never watched ‘The Amazing Race'”. Basically the only similarity to “The Hunger Games” is that the race officials don’t care if people die while out on the course. But the contenders are all different ages, they have these Pandoras with them to help out, they don’t have donors or mentors, and not everybody has to die for there to be a winner. The only similarity to “The Amazing Race” is that it’s a race that changes locations.

With that rant over with…these books are just okay. It’s a really interesting concept and I especially like the detail that Tella is trying to win the cure for her OLDER brother (as opposed to the younger sibling that most dystopian novels favor). Besides that, there’s not very much that I like about Tella. She’s vain and selfish and immature…she kind of bugged me the whole time. I didn’t feel like she grew as a character and let’s be honest, who is really thinking about their glittery closet when they’re in the middle of the desert dying of dehydration??? Her whole relationship with Guy was pretty weird too.  There’s a quote on page 108.

“[Guy’s] face pulls together. I realize it then–he hates me. And not in the way in which I find out later that he actually liked me the whole time.”

Except…he does end up liking her. So in retrospect, this sentence makes zero sense. I actually would have found the book much more interesting if Guy hadn’t liked her. The books had a lot of other inconsistencies as well. In the second book, Olivia refers to something that happened in the jungle leg of the race…SHE WASN’T THERE. That kind of thing just really bugs me. It feels like the writer isn’t being careful.

Overall, the books were just okay. The concept of the race and the whole setup was really promising (even the whole conspiracy theory) and I absolutely LOVED all of the Pandoras. But the human characters just didn’t do it for me. I think there’ll be a third book out sometime, but I’m not sure when. I’ll probably end up reading it.

Overall Rating: 3
Violence: Heavy
Sexual Content: Mild
Language: Moderate (mostly mild, but a few scenes with brief strong language).
Smoking/Drinking: Mild in the first, None in the second.