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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

What would you do to save someone you love? 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 the middle of nowhere 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? Victoria Scott's breathtaking novel grabs read…

Fire & Flood

by Victoria Scott

Overall Book Review:

Young adult author Victoria Scott breathes life into her latest series, Fire & Flood. The first book in the installment is entitled by the same name. Fire and flood:  two nouns that set the stage for what readers will come to know as the Brimstone Bleed. An entertaining account told from protagonist 16 year old Tella Holloway’s point of view. Readers can expect similarities to author Suzanne Collins’ beloved series, The Hunger Games. In fact Fire & Flood should really be called Love & Hate, because devout fans of The Hunger Games will either love it or hate it, depending on their mindset. (Will they think it a knock-off, or be enthusiastic at the correlation between the two? It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.) So what other resemblances can readers anticipate? A mixture of reality TV shows Survivor, The Amazing Race, and anime franchise Digimon–a most interesting mash-up.

This is a contemporary novel accompanied by some science fiction elements. The action starts in small town USA and then branches out across the globe, taking readers on an epic adventure with Tella. What is so endearing about protagonist Tella? First, she is absolutely no hero, in fact, she might even be considered a girly-girl (how else would you describe someone who wishes her survival pack contained Chanel makeup?), but that is no reason to underestimate her. Though she’s a fierce fashionista, you will come to find she is also a fiercely devoted and loyal individual. Again, with the love and hate, the reader will either love her animated narrative and root for her and how she keeps scraping by on her Brimstone Bleed journey, or the reader will find it annoying that this very normal girl seems to get so lucky. With fast-paced action scenes one right after the other, readers hardly have time to be bored or catch their breath. One thing that gives readers a sigh of relief is that there is no love triangle to be had here–although there is semi-sort of insta-love, but really, that’s to be expected when you throw hormonal teenagers in a disturbing setting. (Reference to Divergent–Tris and Four.) Not a fan of Tella? There are plenty of other contenders to acquaint yourself with and a favorite might not even be human. The race is on because if you relished your quest with Tella in Fire & Flood, then you’ll want to get your hands on the squeal Salt & Stone.

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Scholastic

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  41 religious exclamations; 40 mild obscenities; 3 derogatory names; 10 scatological words; 17 anatomical terms; 3 F-word derivatives.

Note: 2 times a character uses the word “ef/effer” in reference to the F-word. 

Violence/Gore:  Brief scene characters tackle one another, pulling hair, blood mentioned; implication that character has been in some sort of violent altercation in the past due to the slight mutilation of his/her body; brief scene in which character has a nightmare in which he/she is shot with arrows; character is bitten by bugs; few brief scenes (about 2) in which characters cut themselves, blood mentioned; extended scene (about 3 pages) animals fight one another, some blood referenced; extended scene (about 1 page) larger animal hunts and kills a smaller animal, somewhat descriptive; brief report of death, no details/description; brief scene character threatens another character with violence; brief scene character tackles another character, threatening his/her life; 2 brief scenes in which a character witnesses another character killed, non-graphic; mention of character injuring ankle; character briefly recounts that a young girl died in a fire; extended descriptive bloody scene (about 2 pages) child character is bitten by a poisonous animal, his/her, extremity must be cut off; extended graphic scene (about 4 pages) character is attacked by another character, character is stabbed to death, characters fight off other characters, animals also participate in violence; wounds on animals implies they have been treated inhumanely; character kicks animal; character threatens another character’s life; brief report (no details) of animals being killed; somewhat graphic brief scene of teen character holding another character’s head under a substance, killing him/her; extended scene (about 1 page) humans threaten animals with violence, character stabs animal; characters threaten one another; extended scene (about 1.5 pages) multiple characters engage in physical violence, biting, kicking, wrestling one another; character is threatened with a knife and is slightly wounded (non-life threatening); brief physical altercation; character is threatened at knife point; brief scene character stabs another character (non-fatal); extended intense scene (about 4 pages) descriptive fight between characters, punching, biting, using knives, stabbing, animal pecks out character’s eyes, character falls off cliff; few scenes (less than 10) of characters having to hunt to eat.

Note: Most of the violence is between teenaged individuals.

Sex/Nudity:  Teen characters undress to their underwear to dry out clothes, boys admire girl’s body; 2x teen boy and teen girl lay in bed together, non-sexual references/innuendos; teens undress to their underwear for survival reasons, extended descriptive scene (about 2 pages) girl character admires male character’s body, they embrace and kiss; sexual reference slang word “doing it”; male and female teen characters hold hands; male and female characters caress each-others face; female character’s behind is touched without her consent; teen characters kiss 2x, descriptive (about a paragraph); brief kiss; teen female character is depicted in a bra using her shirt as a bandage for a wound; descriptive (about 1 paragraph) teen male and female characters kiss, male character caresses female’s back and neck; brief mention of teen mother.

Mature Subject Matter:

Genetically modified animals, terminal illness of a loved one, ethical treatment of animals, ethical issue – to kill or be killed, death.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Character comically mentions his/her mother may be on crack; underage characters drink some-sort of intoxicating beverage; mention of cigarettes.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I appreciate books of all genres, but my main squeeze is fiction. Depending on my mood it could be romance or suspense; lately I’ve been courting fantasy. When I don’t have my nose in a book, I am locating tasty paleo recipes, writing in-coherent poetry, and crafting with paper.