Victoria Scott’s book Fire & Flood
A teenage girl and her animal companion must compete in an exhilarating race to save her brother’s life—and her own—in this contemporary adrenaline ride.
Tella Holloway has a meltdown. When a dozen doctors are unable to diagnose her brother’s illness, her parents decide to go to Montana for the fresh air. She’s lost her friends, her parents are mad, and her brother is dying—but she can do nothing to stop it.
Until she receives enigmatic instructions on how to enter the Brimstone Bleed as a Contender, she might win the prize she desperately wants in this epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain. It’s the treatment for her brother’s disease. There is no assurance that Tella (or any other Contenders) will survive the race, as they are all seeking the Cure for loved ones.
The time is running out, the jungle is dangerous, and Tella knows she can’t rely on her new pals. And a crucial query surfaces: Why have so many people become ill in the first place?
A fast-paced, exciting journey across jungles and deserts, Fire & Flood has a girl with zero aptitudes for natural survival. The trip has several high-stakes situations, as well as bugs, rain, and various natural disasters outdoors. Any time a massive number of individuals are vying for a prize, there will undoubtedly be tremendous drama, lots of backstabbing, and conflicting personalities. I mainly include at least one sociopath. But I was also pleased to see friendship and shared objectives among the characters.
I had a lot of trouble with the setup of this narrative, but if you can get beyond it, find Tella (the main character) adorable, and classify the story as “fun” and “entrainment” in your mind, you’ll probably appreciate it.
Let’s talk about the sacrifices I made to enjoy this novel.
1) This book might not be for you if world-building is your top priority. But if you can suspend your disbelief for a reasonable amount of time, you might really enjoy this.
Because there is so little setup in this book, I almost didn’t get very far. In Fire & Flood, the action/game experience prioritizes giving the narrative a plausible setting. At first glance, at least, it appears that way. As a result, there isn’t much world-building provided at first. I wanted to stop and think because I had so many questions about what was happening. However, suddenly, Tella announces the Brimstone Bleed competition, and we’re off. It happened far too quickly and improbable.
I find it difficult when parents in modern books “protect” their kids by banning all types of technology. At the start of the book, Tella and her family are living in a remote part of Montana. They left Boston and abandoned all electronics because they believed it was too stressful for Cody’s mystery illnesses there. Although it doesn’t play a significant role in the plot, it influences Tella’s early information flow. In contemporary works, the “tight parents prohibiting the outside world” storyline has always struck me as an unrealistic crutch.
This story appears to be set in the present day. However, that is primarily an assumption. It’s not entirely clear. Even more perplexing, I came across a tweet from a Scholastic publisher referring to it as “dystopian.” By the book’s conclusion, more information about this rivalry is revealed, and it becomes much more noticeable, but I had a hard time believing it wasn’t pure fantasy. Which, I suppose, it is.
2) This book is probably not for you if you believe that you are Katniss Everdeen. However, if you fear that you might be a failure at survivalism, you’ll probably like this tale.
Tella wants you to know that she is an ordinary girl. She enjoys wearing makeup and nail paint and dislikes being dirty. Aside from her tenacity, she lacks any inherent survival skills and begins the story entirely defenseless. Although some of her inner “I’m a regular teen girl” sentiments irritated me, I could identify with her much more than I could with Katniss Everdeen. Let’s face it. I would fail miserably if I were also placed in the middle of a forest. Throughout this novel, Tella won me over, and I thought she was funny and lovable. She also starts to display her inner power towards the conclusion of this chapter, and I believe she has a lot to offer the rest of the series.
3) This romance will work for you if you don’t mind your damsels in peril.
I enjoy a good romance no matter where a book is set. Likewise, Fire & Flood has one. Tella’s attachment to her fellow Contender Guy (yep, that’s his name!) is perfectly understandable. He has a natural ability for adapting to high-stress wilderness circumstances, whereas she does not, as is evident early in the book. It’s a straightforward instance of the survival of the fittest that explains her attachment to him. I don’t blame her for wanting to be protected by him, for following him, or for finding him attractive.
Where Guy’s shared interest and fondness originated from was something that I found to be much less evident throughout most of the novel. Unless he enjoys that damsel in distress kind, which is obvious. In the beginning, Tella doesn’t have much going for her, and he saves her quite a bit throughout the novel. Without him, she could not have survived. Nevertheless, when Tella showed more tenacity and a desire to succeed, I came to accept their relationship. By the end of this book, she is fighting some of her struggles. Maybe one of Guy’s many skills is finding the feminine version of the classic diamond in the rough.
4) You’ll adore the pandoras if you enjoy having pet pals.
One of this story’s most endearing aspects was also the one that turned it entirely into a daydream. The pandoras were undoubtedly the book’s high point, but I just couldn’t accept that they existed. Nevertheless, they increased the intrigue and surprise of this work. Each participant in the Brimstone Bleed receives a personal animal Pandora to aid in survival. Madox is one of the best characters in this narrative and Tella’s choice since he is tough and lovely. His skills are another thing that draws her unwanted attention from other Contenders. One of the most complex parts of this novel for me to read was how some characters aren’t as kind to their friends as Tella is. But one of Tella’s best qualities, in my opinion, and one that pays off in this book, is her love and support for animals.
I know that some of my opinions on Fire & Flood are ridiculous, and I found world-building and romance very difficult. I enjoyed the story and learning about Tella’s thoughts, though.