Read more of my reviews at Under The Mountain
Fire and Flood opens with a typical family scene - Tella's mad at her curly hair and blaming her parent's genes for it and arguing with her brother. Except Tella's life isn't normal. Her brother is sick, dying and no-one can save him. Except Tella. Tella receives a small blue box on her bed, in it a device that invites her to the Brimstone Bleed with a promise that if she wins, she will win a cure to any disease. It's when she gets this message that her parents start acting very oddly, in particular her father who tries to burn the device secretly but to no avail, and Tella grabs it back. Unsure if she's just going crazy, she's gets in her old beat up car and sets off to the first stop in the Brimstone Bleed race.
Fire and Flood does feel like a few different books and things - the main thing I was strongly reminded of, surprisingly, was an almost-dystopian... Pokemon. No, really. The competitor gets an egg, it hatches and follows her around and listens to their commands. Not to mention they all have some freaky powers. Plus, some competitors are stealing other people's Pandoras or taking the dead competitors Pandoras.
The first thing I noticed about Tella was her impulsiveness. As soon as she tries to grab a Pandora, a giant egg, another Competitor grabs her hair and yanks her back, so naturally a little later she simply cuts most of her hair short without a moments thought. She's also very, very funny - in the most dire of situations, such as a lion attack in a jungle, all she can think of was that lions aren't supposed to be in jungles. Priorities girl. It was interesting to see someone unused to these harsh ecosystems and battling their way through it, often we have tougher heroines who now what they are doing and Tella did exactly what I would do - followed someone else! Other than Tella, there's some very varied and interesting personalities in this book that I loved getting to know and I was sad when they left.
I did feel sorry for the many Pandoras though. Everyone kept the eggs as safe as possible - until they hatched into various different creatures and while Tella named hers and protected it, others took a lot longer to connect with them and realise that they have feelings and personalities too and some people never understood that and treated them particularly cruelly.
I'm really excited about where the sequels will take us, the rules for getting into base camp are probably going to get tougher and I'm definitely expecting a Battle Royale rule in there at some point. I' hopeful that the race will finish in the next book and the third one will take us to after the Brimstone Bleed, as I believe that there are things that were revealed in the book that can only addressed outside of the race.