Review: Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott

Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott.

Fire & Flood #1.
Published: February 25, 2014.
Published by: Scholastic Press.
Source: Requested an ARC from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you, Scholastic Canada!

Goodreads Synopsis:
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 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?

My Review:

Fire & Flood is an exciting survive-and-thrive type story that definitely caught and kept my attention. An entertaining and original main character leads a cast of interesting and surprising characters in what is overall a rather intense and mostly enjoyable novel.

One of the original selling point of the book for me was the Brimstone Bleed, the "epic race" that provides the main action. I was glad to find that this element was definitely what I hoped it would be: a difficult survival challenge with obstacles to overcome and fierce competitors to deal with. The varied pacing of the race and the emotion of the high-stakes pressure mixed with the often quieter moments of getting to know the characters made for a very readable novel in the sense that I didn't have time to get bored with the action, but I was still able to keep up well. There was clearly attention paid to the movement of the plot and it pays off.

In particular I really enjoyed the main character, Tella. She is very different from the typical heroine found in this kind of YA novel. She is a girly girl at heart - she struggles with her hair, she loves her nail polish and she longs for a day of shopping and spa-going. But like some of the strongest heroines out there, Tella has something worth fighting for - her brother. He needs the Cure desperately and Tella is his only hope. The way she stays true to her proudly feminine self but is still able to dig down and find it inside her to face the challenges the Brimstone Bleed throws her way is not only incredibly impressive (she faces down some scary tough obstacles) but also is great proof that there is no one type of good heroine. Tella shows that girls don't have to ignore or suppress their feminine side in order to face challenges and survive in extreme conditions. That is not only admirable but also very important today when girly girls seem to have no place in action/adventure type stories. Tella breaks the mold of typical YA heroines but still proves herself worthy of a spot on the list.

The major thing I struggled with in this novel was the animal cruelty that is present. Some could argue that it's not really animal cruelty because the Pandoras aren't natural animals, but they're close enough for me (and Tella) to care about them like animals and I saw them as such. I understand why it's included because it works very well for characterization of one character in particular as well as for Tella, and it certainly worked to elicit a strong emotional reaction from me. However, I know some people who will be immediately turned off by the fact that it is there at all and I must say that it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. I was uncomfortable with the descriptions and the presence of the cruelty, so while I recognize its purpose, I still found it was the lowest point of the book for me.

Overall, there were a lot of exciting high points in this novel and one major low that I struggled with. However, I'm hoping that because of the way Fire & Flood wraps up this won't present much of an issue in the sequel, Salt & Stone, so I'll be able to enjoy it completely. That is certainly one that is going on my must-read list because Scott did a great job of getting me invested in her story and the outcomes for her characters.


  1. Wow, Tella sounds like such an interesting main character! I like that you say that she's a girly girl. So often it's these tough as nails chicks doing scary things, but I like that she's soft around the edges. Or just completely soft? I don't know cause I haven't read it, but now I want to! Thanks for the great review!

    1. I definitely like Tella for how different she is. She totally breaks the stereotype of uber-tough girls who only show emotion for a cute guy and take down everything thrown at them. It was refreshing to have someone pretty soft but still courageous and determined. I think you may really like her!


I'd love to hear what you think!